Scott is a Wannabe Innovator!

As most of you know, I gave up a full time teaching position in an excellent suburban public school to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University.  It has been quite the journey and I have loved every step of the way.

In some of the reading for a class today, I learned about diffusion of innovation.  Now keep with me for a second, don’t bail out yet…Here it is in a nut shell – when adopting innovation, people fall into the following categories:

  • Innovators – 2.5%: These people drive change.
  • Early Adopters – 13.5%: Willing to try new things.
  • Early Majority – 34%: Thoughtful and willing to change, once advantages are demonstrated.
  • Late Majority – 34%: Skeptical of change and only adopt after the majority have already done so.
  • Traditional Users (Laggards) – 16%: Critical of anything new and will not adopt until the new has become traditional

Here are the questions posed by my professor followed by my response.

Describe an instance of change you’ve experienced as a member of an organization (ex: teacher in a school). What role did you take in the process of change? (That is, did you demonstrate the behavior and/or attitude of an early adopter, a “laggard” or somewhere in between?) How was the change initiated? How did you and others in the organization handle the change? As you reflect, with what you know now, what leadership and management issues and challenges can you identify and discuss?

Here is a big change that was self inflicted and led to a cascading of events that led to me becoming a PhD student: The Flipped Classroom!

How did all of this happen…Well….

I was really impressed when I first came across Khan Academy – I thought this was a great way to make resources available for my students outside of the school day.  A place where they could go to get help when I was not around.  However, I was also thinking – it would be really cool to have my own math videos for my students to watch.  I test drove some software for 30 days (Camtasia, it is amazing) and when the trial was over, I asked my principal if she would sponsor a copy.  This was like a shot of heroin.  The highs I felt when working with Camtasia and creating for my students were awesome.  The ideas bouncing through my head when I wasn’t creating gave me a powerful buzz.  The next year, I flipped my classroom in all three preps that I was assigned: PreAP Algebra 2, PreAP Precalculus, and Calculus.  I chased down resources, I made videos, I started using Edmodo (one of the first people in our district to use this LMS), found SnagIt, and went to my first ISTE conference.  The conference introduced me to Jane Mcgonigal, which led to lots of deep thoughts about gamifying my classroom and an intense desire to have a session or poster at ISTE.  All the while this is happening I was becoming active in Twitter and the things that I could find under the following hashtags: #oklaed, #flipclass, #mathchat, #okmath, #tlap, #edtech, #edtechchat, #gamification, #gbl, #pbl, #sbg, #satchat, and #satchatwc just to name a few.  I have found and participated in more…..these were the influencers.  After the second ISTE conference, where my friend Kristina and I had a poster session, I changed up my Calculus classes to a gamification model.  Then left halfway through the first year of that experiment to become a full time grad student.

To sum up, I have been on one long continuous journey of change over the past four years, looking for ways to best use educational technology in the classroom.  Then as I become more comfortable and willing to try any sort of idea, I started sharing what I did with the world in my blog and in my building.  I would talk to anyone who would listen.  I would share ideas, make lesson suggestions, comment on an app, share a website, collaborate, whatever I could do to make our teachers more comfortable, less fearful of this crazy new thing called educational technology.  Inside of my school, my administration was very supportive.  They encouraged me to explore all of these things, and if I requested money, they wourld help me get the technology or provide an alternative that was less expensive.  I had their support and their trust.

So where do I see myself?  An early adopter.  Flipclass is still in its infacy, the current iteration of flipclass has only been around 8 years or so and I was not in on the ground floor.  Gamification is newer, but I also missed the ground floor in this one as well.  I did not get as much practice application with this concept as I did with the flipped classroom.  However, I think gamification can have massive benefits with today’s students (unprofessional and limited researched opinion).

I would love to be an innovator – to have that idea that makes an impact at all levels of education all over the world.  

As far as leadership with all of this, I do find myself with limited patience for teachers who are laggards with edtech.  This is not some flash in the pan educational philosophy that is doing to disappear in a few years.  The rate of change in our world is growing expoenentially!  We have no idea what careers are going to be available to students who are in 2nd grade.  How do we prepare them for those careers if we, as teachers, do not start exposing them to technology?  Some students only get this exposure at school, and there is evidence that a digital divide is growing.  How do we account for this?  How can we as teachers be satisfied with how we are conducting eduction if we refuse to start incorporating technology?

Lots of passion on this topic for me.  I am not saying everyone needs to have the experiences I had or do the things that I have done.  BUT, as teachers, we need to be willing to step out of our traditional comfort zones and step into reality.  We need to do the best we can to prepare our students for futures that don’t exist yet.

I saw this quote and will end here: If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

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