Thursday, September 8, 2016

Is not being innovative actually innovative?

Innovation is a word that is often misunderstood.  It does not mean being up to date on all the newest programs.  If you don't know it all, then you can still be innovative.  The trick is how you use what you do know.

I have seen posts about the 50 best programs out there and I have seen people share amazing resources.  I love that there are people out there who are always chasing the next thing.  I think it is a great thing... for them, but not for me.  Does that mean that I am not innovative?  No.

That is something that I have had to convince myself over the past 2 years.  Here is my context.  For the past 2 years I have been either the secondary EdTech TOSA (Teacher On Special Assignment) or the interim Director of EdTech for a LARGE school district.  That being said, if there is a program that I would like to implement in schools or see used widely, with fidelity, there are 2400 teacher who need to be trained in said program.

For the context where I work, I am done chasing shiny objects (programs that seem cool for a bit).  I have found a set of programs that I could use to teach a different type of lesson each of the 185 days of the school year.  Does it mean that I am not innovative for limiting myself?  I don't think that it does.  Sir Ken Robinson would say that I am a "divergent thinker."  Some might call me creative, some lazy, and others would say that I am vanilla.  The negative of the descriptions would only apply if you have never seen how I use the programs.

I use the following programs:

  1. Google Slides
  2. Google Sheets
  3. Google Forms
  4. Google Docs
  5. Screencastify
  6. Awesome Screenshot
That is all. As you can probably guess, my district has invested in chromebooks.  I know that there are other programs out there, but I have found a set of programs that I use.  Do I know others, of course.  Could I integrate them in the classroom, if I wanted.  Am I short-changing any student if I only use these programs, No!  In fact, I would say that by giving them choice to use other programs, but not supporting them, I am encouraging a growth mindset.

Why am I writing this post?  Who cares what programs you use.  I would bet that I can engage students, get them to learn to high levels on the Depth of Knowledge scale, and I can get them to create and think critically.  Most importantly, I can get them to enjoy doing it.

Do you have to spend hours upon hours finding the right program, no.  The ones I use are merely collaborative forms of the programs I used through college (powerpoint, excel, and docs) and a picture and video creator.  Innovation is not knowing the next, latest, and greatest app or program.  Innovation is finding a way to use the things that you know to get students to learn deeply and enjoy themselves while they do it.

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