Being Amazing -Fostering Innovation

It’s been over 20 years since technology made it’s way into my classroom and my life.  The promise was that technology brought the world to my students, made my job as a teacher better, and allowed for preparing my students for their future.    By the year 202o IT jobs will grow 22%, what is the education industry doing to prepare our students for their future?

Teachers are doing better at getting their students ready for state and national high-stakes tests.  Administrators are getting better at collecting and reading data from those tests while holding teachers accountable for results. State departments of education are getting better at reporting data collected from those tests and student information systems. Families are getting better at evaluating communities using the data states report. Being good at school, knowing how to ace tests, and working with specific narrow perimeters is not future ready.  Compliance, conformity, and focusing on test results are all innovation killers.

Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a nation to create an education industry that leads in innovation.  We have the tools, the data, the research and the people to make our schools the kind of place where students are knocking down the doors to get in. Where classrooms, buildings and districts provide the inspiration our future needs. Where curiosity is sparked, fanned and flamed into empowerment. In some cases technology is used for creating, programing and innovating and that should be the norm. The data use in an innovative classroom measures how individuals learn, their talents, interests and how they use their skills to improve their abilities. Research has shown that when technology is integrated on a deep level and teachers are expected to be innovative the culture of that school changes to a collaborative, strengths-based environment.  Students discover their love of learning, passions are fostered and talents are unleashed. Change is an opportunity to do something amazing – Be amazing. Our future depends on it!

This post is in collaboration with #IMMOOC ~George Couros “The Innovator’s Mindset”


7 Elements of Digitally Productive Districts

Recently I’ve been reading articles, books and attending conferences that address the needs and solutions for integrating technology in classrooms, but what about the rest of the district?   As a Chief Innovation Officer/Director of Technology I’ve determined there are 7 elements that ensure a district enhances productivity as it implements and updates digital systems.

  1. Communication and Collaboration: it’s not just for teachers.  All departments benefit from the convenience and efficiency of digital communications/inter departmental collaboration.  District leadership must be the model for this as they utilize and support the use of digital communication systems.
  2. Cloud services, when implemented strategically, allows for better use of current infrastructure resources, adds to the convenience for endusers, and when implemented with fidelity protects personally identifiable information.  This includes wifi access both within and outside the district.
  3. Curriculum and Instruction are greatly enhanced when all departments utilize digital resources effectively. Content consumption, content creation, higher order thinking skills, problem solving and innovative instruction excels when districts leverage learning management systems and student information systems to their fullest. Those systems that have the ability to share data are more powerful and extend the data collection opportunities for administrators as well as teachers.
  4.  Individualized learning is ubiquitous for students as well as staff when utilizing digital systems.  Everyone in a district, from the superintendent to the bus driver to school board members , can get the training they need to be better at their job through digital training opportunities.  When staff and students have the right tool for the job digital equity is a step closer to reality.
  5. Streamlining workflow through digital processes is usually very different in each department and a crucial element for digitally productive districts. As your district transitions from analog to digital be sure to address the whys first.  When addressing the hows consider how each department is affected positively and negatively.  Strategic planning and communication can eliminate many of the roadblocks that digital transitions have been know to cause.
  6. Data drives decisions. Data driven decision-making is not new to education or the classroom.  It shouldn’t be new to any department that supports the classroom either.  Going digital strategically and establishing your data points as you transition gives you the data needed to justify decisions made.  It can also open your eyes to the realities of race, gender and other biases.
  7. Policies and guidelines that  protect student data, personally identifiable information and support the use of technology are the glue that holds the other 6 elements together.  Having policies, expectations and protocols that support, not block, the use of technology will make technology integration throughout the district a vision that can be realized.

The process of migrating to digital is ongoing as systems evolve and new technologies are introduced.  It must be planned for and budgeted for through a strategic plan in order be realized. Districts that specifically state those elements in their technology plan and follow through with actions are the districts that are innovative, engaging and a model for preparing students to be future ready.