Monday, June 29, 2015

How do you decide what to research?

This afternoon I will be manning the ReD Studio booth at ISTE.  The title of this blog post represents the most common question asked whenever I mention that ASB has an R&D Department.  Chapter 3 of R&D Your School contains a lot of information about where our R&D topics come from, and outlines the 4 main drivers that are used to ensure our topics are relevant and focused on the needs of our students:
  1. Current and emerging global trends - which are shaping our world and will shape the world of the future.
  2. Major relevance to ASB's mission and core values.
  3. Significant potential advantage to current teaching and learning.
  4. A sudden urgency to meet unexpected needs.
So how do these play out in reality?  Let's look at some of our recent R&D topics and see how they relate to the 4 main drivers:
  • Games Based Learning - this was a Task Force from 2011 (which later became Gamification) and was researched and prototyped because it has a significant advantage for current teaching and learning.
  • Mobile Learning - this was a Task Force from 2012 and was researched and prototyped because of current and emerging global trends.
  • Maker Mindset - this was a Task Force from 2013 and was chosen because of its advantage to teaching and learning and because Maker is an emerging global trend.
  • Social Entrepreneurship - this was a Task Force from 2014 and was chosen because of it being both an emerging global trend and because it has major relevance to our school mission and values.
Of course it's not just a matter of selecting topics, we also want to ensure that we can implement these topics in the context of teaching and learning at ASB.  To decide on this we look at the plus factors that will enable us to develop these topics and successfully and various areas of the school in order to really innovate teaching and learning.  These plus factors are as follows:
  1. Potential impact - there must be a significant advantage over what already exists.  Without this R&D will not make a meaningful impact or return on investment.
  2. Champions - R&D needs teachers who are committed to lead the work and who will persist through obstacles.  Without this there is little chance of success.
  3. Cost in terms of human resources - we have to ask whether the cost of developing and implementating is worth the impact.
  4. Degree of innovation - we ask whether R&D will bring something new to the school, or is it simply a revamping of what already exists.
  5. Receptivity to innovation - which can vary across divisions, grades and departments.
  6. Synergy - between the different R&D innovations that can multiply the impact of an innovation.
If you would like a copy of R&D Your School it's available on Kindle and costs just $5.

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