Last week, I was challenged to create a survey to send out to my community of practice to help increase my understanding and knowledge of a wicked problem of practice (WPP). WPPs are identified each year in the Horizon Reports and I had chosen to examine the problem of “scaling innovation” that was discussed in 2015. This WPP felt particularly relevant to me because I co-facilitated a session at SXSWedu last year of the same name and my current role involves a lot of work to try and scale innovation slowly in my own school context and beyond via global initiatives.
Luckily, I had support in tackling such a tricky problem. I am working with another educator (an awesome teacher in VA!) for this project, which will culminate with a white paper. We decided that it would be informative to send the same survey to both of our school communities, since we work in very different settings (i.e,. private and public schools), and also to our PLNs. We made this choice because we felt that in order to truly gain a deeper understanding of scaling innovation and how and why it is a WPP, we needed to talk to a larger, more diverse population that could inform us about issues that would affect scaling or growing innovation beyond any one school or geographic area.
We crafted questions that would help us understand the background data of our participants, as well as their interest towards innovation, and the challenges they might be experiencing when trying to scale it or create change. Check out this Google Doc for my analysis of the survey results.
Ultimately, we found that over 90% of participants believe their schools need to innovate and these educators are willing to help make that happen.
Yet, they still face large challenges, such as time, funding, and culture and there are also large gaps between what educators are aware of in terms of innovative practice and what they have (and possibly are able) to implement, possibly due to constraints they named in the survey.
This suggests that scaling innovation truly is a wicked problem that involves a huge range of variables and has no “right” or “wrong” answer but must be endlessly explored because each effort to scale innovation is unique and novel. Are you working to scale innovation in your school? What ideas have you explored or prototyped?
Creating infographics is a great way to check for understanding because a well-crafted infographic requires you to drill down larger theories and the supporting research to key themes and concepts. In the past, I have designed infographics to make data more accessible and to share project information with a variety of audiences. This week, I worked to create an infographic (below) that could summarize the core ideas we have been exploring in CEP811, which focuses on the Maker Movement in education.
The theme that I chose to highlight with my infographic is the value of adding #MakerEd to your teacher toolbox. I wanted to recognize that many teachers already have numerous approaches and “tools” in their toolboxes that help them reach their students and make learning meaningful. I do not see the Maker Movement as something that can “rescue” education or solve all of its problems but I do believe that making is a powerful way for students to learn (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 3).
Therefore, it is important for educators to consider adding making to their toolboxes because it can help give students access to many of the experiences that help them to experience deeper learning. Likewise, #MakerEd can assist students in developing skills and mindsets that will serve them not only in the classroom, but in their futures as they start their own careers or even design completely new jobs (A. 2014).
Richard Culatta (2013) speaks to some of the challenges that many classrooms face today and I see the Maker Movement as helping to overcome them because it offers students a higher degree of voice and choice and through collaboration, hands-on learning, failure, and risk-taking, students begin to make connections about how things work and realize their own power as creators, inventors, and innovators (Couros, 2015).
If every lesson was designed with some form of making in mind, I think there would be a lot more cohesion across disciplines and room for real-world problem-solving in schools. Students would be able to constantly reference and build on their experiences because there would be fewer silos where students are told “this is science” and “this is literacy” and they are separate.
I am excited to see what the current generation of students create and how they change the world in the next few years, using everything from a Raspberry Pi to 3D printing skills.
(Click image to enlarge)