Tag Archives: #sxswedu

Assessing Perspectives on Innovation

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.

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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?

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Mapping My PLN in 2015

My PLN 2015

Click the Image to See it Full Screen

This week I had the chance to map out my Professional Learning Network (PLN) using Popplet, a digital mind mapping tool (available free on the web and as a paid app), as part of my work in CEP810. I tried to capture the various communities, platforms, and topics that make up my PLN, as well as their many intersections. I’ve done this exercise a few times before, including an in-depth reflection I created while participating in #ETMOOC in 2013.

The same familiar communities popped up at the heart of my PLN: ed tech, global education, and early childhood education. These are my passions and my PLN is instrumental in helping me to learn more about each one. While making my map, I also realized that social media (another passion of mine) is truly the core of my PLN because it is through various social tools and networks that I usually engage with most of my communities. Although I certainly have face-to-face networks that contribute to my PLN, the majority of my professional learning and connections have been built online.

I use a number of different social tools, but Twitter has been the place where I have built the strongest networks. I have used it to develop and maintain many relationships that have had an important impact on who I am as a professional and a classroom educator. For example, it was through Twitter that I first connected with Lindsey (@LindseyOwn), and due to our shared interests, we ended up in the same Global Online Academy (GOA) course on Coaching Innovation, which then led us to plan (completely virtually) a session on Scaling Innovation for SXSWedu last year … and now, we are co-facilitating a year-long GOA Global Learning Network around innovation (look for the iGLN hashtag)! I have so many stories like this, where through social media, I have gotten to know inspiring and amazing educators, leaders, and even organizations that have become a valuable part of my PLN.

You’ll probably notice that many of the nodes on my PLN map are actually hashtags because it is through those simple little hash-marked keywords and their related real-time chats, that I have grown to be part of some wonderful communities. These communities (e.g., #dtk12chat, #makered, #etmooc, etc) have changed the way I teach and they have pushed me to grow, each and every day, as an educator, innovator, and leader. Most importantly, hashtags offer an opportunity to create meaningful relationships with other people who are passionate about the same topics I love and they connect me to support whenever I have questions or need encouragement. It’s pretty impressive how powerful those little hashtags can be!

One challenge that I encountered when trying to create my PLN in Popplet was adequately showing some of the interconnections that exist between my different communities. The lines started to cross and blend together and some nodes felt too far to really draw a line to another one. I also could not fit as many nodes on my map as I wanted without it becoming too large and hard to see on one screen. This is one of the reasons I reverted to pen and paper when I tried to map my PLN in 2013. I wonder what other tools might exist today that could help capture the dynamic relationships between different communities, tools, and topics in a PLN?

By posting my PLN map here, I am hopeful that I can make even more connections and expand my network even further. If you are interested or passionate about any of the topics on my map, please reach out to me and let’s chat!