Most Popular of 2015, No. five: These 6 questions determine if you’re technology rich, innovation poor

By Alan November
December 25th, 2015

Think your school is innovative with tech? Answer these 6 questions and prepare to reassess

Ed. note: We’re counting down the top stories of 2015 based on popularity (i.e. website traffic) to No. 1 on Dec. 31. In addition to being one of the most popular stories we’ve published this year, this piece also has the distinction of being one of the most important. Alan November challenges educators to examine their lessons through a new lens — are they really demanding the most creative, innovative work from students through their lessons? It’s a good question, and as November points out: in the digital age, good questions are the new answers.

innovation-questionsAt the start of a webinar I recently conducted for school leaders, I asked attendees if they felt they were leading an innovative school as a result of the implementation of technology. More than 90 percent responded that they were. At the end of the webinar, when polled again, only one leader claimed to be leading an innovative school.

The complete reversal was due to a presentation on the six questions that you will read about in this article—a list of questions that were developed to help clarify for educators the unique added value of a digital learning environment, and whether their assignments were making the best use of this environment.

Want to test your own level of innovation? If you answer no to all six questions when evaluating the design of assignments and student work, then chances are that technology is not really being applied in the most innovative ways. The questions we ask to evaluate implementation and define innovation are critical.

(Beyond SAMR: Special note to those of you applying SAMR. Many educators who believed their assignment to be at the highest level of SAMR have discovered that the answer can be no to all six of the transformation questions.)

(Next page: the 6 questions and how to shape your lessons for innovation)