What is technology’s role in innovation?

Subtitled: My first attempt at “sketchnotes”

I was challenged last week by an online class I’m taking (immooc.org/) to write three blog posts (one short, one longer, and one with a buddy) based on chapters 9-12 of The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros.  And I challenged myself to try doing sketchnotes because I’m intrigued by them – they make such a great visual representation of learning and I wanted to try it out to see if (and how) sketchnoting might work as a learning tool for our students.  So here goes – my longer blog post + my first sketchnote!


That’s my sketchnote to summarize chapter 9 of The Innovator’s Mindset.  The chapter indicates that school leaders need to prove willingness to innovate alongside their educator teams in order to unleash their talent.  We are all learning together!

Technology does not equal innovation, and if computers are used only to do the exact same learning you would do with a pencil, then the computer is just a thousand-dollar pencil.  Innovation, therefore, requires changing our mindset.

Learners are the driver, and technology is the accelerator for learning.  We educators should assess technology for what opportunities it can provide each learner.  Those opportunities should be relevant to our world today and the world in which our learners will grow up to inhabit.  Learners who drive their own learning are empowered! The child who never speaks up in class may find her voice through a different medium, like blogs, vlogs, or podcasts.  Use technology to individualize learning, not for standardization.

When considering resources, we should first consider our ideologies for education.  Without considering the “why” of education, there is no point in trying to figure out “how” and “what.”  As educators, WE should learn from a variety of resources, like YouTube, Skype, blogs, and face-to-face meetings. (See? it’s not only about technology!)  The more we understand the various learning opportunities, the more we can guide our students in using them.  Our goal should always be to move forward.  BUT, we don’t have to keep up with or catch up to our neighbor.  This is an individual race and we are seeking our own personal bests.

When considering whether to block or allow certain tech tools, we should consider four questions:

1. What is best for the kids?

Using social media as an example, are we better off blocking it or using it?  Perhaps, with teacher guidance, approval, and support, students can learn to use social media for social good. Or educationally. Or to develop their positive online presence.  If they don’t learn this in school, where will they learn it? 

2. How does this improve learning?

This sort of goes back to don’t use technology just for the sake of using technology.  If it doesn’t serve learning, don’t waste your time, money, or effort.  Keep the end goal and your educational ideology in mind.

3. What is the balance of risk vs. reward?

Some things are controversial, like allowing cell phones in the classroom, YouTube, or social media.  If you think you need to allow something that is currently blocked, make sure you can articulate the rewards.  A reasonable leader, tech department, and/or parent body should respond well to a set of clearly outlined benefits.

4. Is this serving the few or the majority?

The book uses this example: if a student stabs another student with a pencil, he will likely still be using that pencil at the end of the day.  Yet if there is an instance of cyberbullying, all phones are taken away from everyone.  In relation to the pencil incident, that seems an extreme reaction.  Cyberbullying is horrible, no question, as is all bullying, but this brings us back to question number one.  Perhaps we would be better off giving our learners a lot of practice in positive digital citizenship.

And that’s that.  Chapter Nine.  If you’re interested in what I learned from sketchnoting, read my short blog for the week.  Thanks for following along!

Resources to check out (comment with more!)

To learn more about social media in education, take a look at the resources below. To help me learn more about it, because I’m just getting my feet wet here, please comment with other resources (there are so many!), examples from your school, or helpful tips. Thanks!

Social Media in Education
Learning in the age of Social Networks by Nigel Coutts
#BookSnaps – Snapping for Learning by Tara Martin
21st century Skills: How to C.R.A.F.T an Effective Social Media Presence by Social Assurity


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