Innovator Project Update #1

In August I had the privilege of attending the Google Certified Innovator Academy in Sydney. It was a crazy trip: two red eye flights, an ‘amazing race’ in downtown Sydney, lots of design and moonshot thinking, encouragement to think big but start small, and an expectation that I would spend the year working on an innovation project.

I went to Sydney intent on developing a project that leveraged online technologies to shift school culture. My original thought was to use HyperDocs; I liked the way pedagogy was baked right into a Hyperdoc and thought this could be leveraged to encourage teachers to try new pedagogies in their classrooms. My complete thoughts can be seen in my Innovator Academy application video and slide deck:

While I was in Sydney I realised my idea was not going to work. The pieces just were not connecting for me. So I started investigating Badges. I got to the stage where I thought Badges + HyperDocs was an interesting area to investigate, but was still not clear on 2 things:

  1. How this linked to shifting my school’s culture, and
  2. How to fit this into all the other work I am doing to try and shift my school’s culture

To try and unpack question 1 I turned to my trusty iPad pro and Apple pencil. An hour of sketching later I think I managed to unpack how I thought Badges fit into a larger vision of shifting school culture.

In essence, I looked at 4 factors that I thought hindered innovation, risk taking and collaboration in schools: siloed classrooms; grading; lack of time and school hierarchies. In my mind badges can help mitigate these factors because they (in similar order): promote transparency; provide the learner with a way to guage their progress and communicate their skills and knowledge; can be worked on anytime and anywhere; and can be worked on by anyone in any order. It then occured to me that badges have the potential to be what Clayton Christensen calls a disruptive innovation. By using them as part of my school’s pro-d program I can envision them impacting the different factors I have mentioned, but in an indirect way; working on improving a school’s culture from the edge, the outside in, rather than directly (which can often result in significant push back).

A lot of work has already been done on badges, but one area that I have not been able to find much information on is how teachers and students get motivated to buy into a badge system, and feel like they have the skills and resources available to them take a risk and try to earn a badge. This is what brought me back to Hyperdocs. A properly designed HyperDoc can guide the user through gaining the skills they need to get the badge, as well as providing the evidence to get the Badge.

More in the next update.

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