Saturday, March 4, 2017

The diffusion of innovation

Last month I made a presentation to the Vietnam Technology Conference about sustainable innovation.  I shared the YouTube video below and asked those who were in my session where their school as a whole (not individual teachers) would fall on the innovation curve.

At our last R&D meeting last month we also did some reading about the diffusion of innovation.  We talked about how some innovations such as smartphones take only a few years to reach widespread diffusion, whereas others take so much longer.  Examples I can think of from my daily life include the fact that almost nobody in India travelling in the rear seat of a car uses a seatbelt (I have a daily fight with my Uber drivers about how I want to use it and make them push the clip through the back seat where they have "hidden" it), and using imperial measurements which still crop up in our maths teaching despite the fact that there are only 3 countries worldwide that have not adopted the metric system.

Here are some other factors that affect the rate at which an innovation is adopted:

  • Relative advantage - the innovation is seen as being better.  This perception may be in terms of economics, social prestige, convenience or satisfaction, which are important factors even when the innovation isn't really that much better than what it is replacing.  The greater the perceived relative advantage, the quicker the adoption will be.
  • Compatibility with existing values, past experiences and needs.
  • Complexity - anything that is difficult to understand or that involves developing new skills will be adopted more slowly.
  • Trialability - if an innovation can be trialled then there will be more willingness to adopt it.
  • Observability - now visible the results of the innovation are visible to others.  The easier it is for people to see this, the more likely they will be to adopt it.
I'm thinking about how these factors relate to schools and to new ideas that get adopted there too.  This ranges from the idea of BYOD, mobile devices, MakerSpaces and so on, all the way through to things like new forms of assessment and reporting, or what tool to use for ePortfolios.  What other examples can you think of?  Do you agree that the 5 factors listed above are the ones most important when considering innovation in schools?

No comments:

Post a Comment