The key to innovations: No barriers

I once again come back to the topic of barriers and innovations.  This issue came to the forefront on Friday when I was leading a training session on how to use an innovation.  I had been planning for days to ensure there weren’t any issues that would prevent us from getting through the training, but as it were, when I arrived on Friday, there were immediate problems related to the main part of the innovation.  I won’t bore you with details, but it suffices to say that I prepared a back up plan that would have achieved nearly the same results.  However, after soon running into another barrier I quickly needed a back up for my back up.  Needless to say, the day was pretty much shot before it started.

Why am I bothering to tell you this?  It’s plain and simple.  If we expect innovation to take place in our schools, whether at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary levels, we must meet the basic needs of people to allow the minimum conditions required for innovation to occur.  If we can’t do this, then we shouldn’t expect an innovation to diffuse across a population.  It just isn’t going to happen.  If you think otherwise, you’re naive and need to really consider the system you are working within.

I understand that innovation by design pushes the limits of the system.  Failure is to be expected and should be welcomed.  But it’s what we do after the failure that is the metric of our commitment to innovations.  If we do nothing, NOTHING, then we shouldn’t expect anything to change.  No new innovations, no new plans, no new learning.  Just business as usual.

Are there innovations taking place in your school?  Are you supporting them by removing barriers?  If not, why?


I’m guilty of it too…

I was asked today by a colleague on Twitter for some resources for IWBs and as I was thumbing through my blog for different posts that could help him out, I came across this one:  This is a post that I brought over last year from my old blogging platform and is one of the first blogs I wrote after going to Google Apps.

Now if you read my blog regularly and know me, I can’t stand having technology just added to current teaching practices.  But, alas, I must admit.  I’m guilty of it too.  In this blog post I explain to teachers in my school how to create worksheeets using Google Docs.  Oh the horror!  How could I do something like that!!

Well the truth is that we learn everyday and we make mistakes.  Failure is part of the learning process and what we do after we fail is what matters.  So yes, I made a mistake and just added technology onto what we were already doing.  Do I know better now, some two years from when I penned the post?  Of course and that’s why I’m going to move promptly to that post and add a comment explaining an alternative to doing worksheets in Google Docs.  One that gets at the real power of the technology.