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Innovation Requires Structure

By: Keara Mascareñaz on August 26th, 2015

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Innovation Requires Structure

Personalized Learning  |  Blended Learning  |  School Districts  |  Uinta County School District

 

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Often when we think about innovation we imagine a world where boldness and creativity rule-- free form design, hundreds of post it notes, wild experimentation, extreme risk-taking, rainbows! But I’ve found in my experience working with schools for the past 14 years that innovation is often best fostered by structured supports.

We need to build in choices, options, and ownership so that anyone in an organization can innovate,Tweet: We need to build in choices, options, and ownership so that anyone in an organization can innovate http://ctt.ec/F58DO+ #edchat #edleaders but we also need to build in checks, goals, and vision so that we know why we’re innovating and how to confirm we’ve made our schools better. This idea of innovation within structure is the foundation behind bestsellers like The Lean Start Up and The Innovator’s Method. Try something small, test it, learn from your test, and then iterate, expand, or scrap your idea based on evidence and critical reflection.Tweet: Try something small, test it, learn from your test, & then iterate, expand, or scrap your idea based on evidence and critical reflection The challenge is that we often don’t know how to measure the success or failure of something in a system as big as a school district.Tweet: The challenge is that we often don’t know how to measure the success or failure of something in a system as big as a school district #edchat It’s easy for me to know if my personal exercise program is working--I look fitter, I feel better, I run faster, etc. But when it comes to measuring the impact of changing one or two practices in a classroom, school, or district with hundreds of inputs, it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly is working or not working.

That’s why I’m so thrilled about the Blended Learning Innovation Configuration that the Uinta County School District #1 team has developed.Tweet: That’s why I’m so thrilled about the #BlendedLearning Innovation Configuration that @UCSD1 has developed http://ctt.ec/hyft_+ #edelements Superintendent Dr. James Bailey, Chief Technology Officer Jaruan Dennis, and principals, teachers, and blended learning leads from across the district have helped to shape this document which helps to guide those essential reflections---What are we trying to do? Is what we’re doing working? Is what we’re doing better for students?

Blended LEarning Innovation Configuration by Education Elements  & UCSD

Last month, my colleagues Scott Johns, Liz Kopp, and I had the chance to work with 64 UCSD #1 blended learning fellows (teachers who opted to transform their classroom to a blended model this year). During our two days together, teachers used the Innovation Configuration to help them narrow in on a problem of practice they think blended learning could help them solve.Tweet: #InnovationConfiguration to help #teachers narrow in on a problem they think #blendedlearning could help them solve http://ctt.ec/f49f4+ From there, they created designs for their specific grade level and subject areas. They will launch these designs this week! Here are a few of these teacher-created designs, including their innovation configuration (IC) focus areas and problems of practice:

Uinta - innovation requires structure - blended learning design

Blended LEarning Innovation Configuration by Education Elements  & UCSD

Blended LEarning Innovation Configuration by Education Elements  & UCSD

 

Blended LEarning Innovation Configuration by Education Elements  & UCSD

 

Innovation requires structure - Education elements and UCSD blended learning

Blended LEarning Innovation Configuration by Education Elements  & UCSD

I hope these designs and the Innovation Configuration will help you-- whether you’re a teacher, principal, or district leader-- to think about how you can build more structure into your innovation processesTweet: Designs & #InnovationConfiguration to help you to think abt how you can build more structure into your innov. processes http://ctt.ec/X0nF8+ so that you can inspire creativity and measure if what you’re creating is actually working. If you have questions or ideas about how to develop innovation at your site-- reach out to me via twitter @kearaduggan or the Ed Elements team. 

 

Header image by Sira Anamwong, by freedigitalphotos.net

 

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About Keara Mascareñaz

Keara is a Managing Partner at Education Elements who focuses on how to build and scale a culture of innovation in large systems, how to create national communities of collaboration, and how to keep laughing when pursuing daunting, large-scale changes. She was lucky to collaborate with co-authors Alexis Gonzales-Black and Anthony Kim to design the website and toolkit for The NEW School Rules: 6 Practices for Responsive and Thriving Schools.

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