State of the Innovation Plan after 17 Months
Part A – Innovation at Work
Throughout our entire Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University, we have consistently connected our learning to an Innovation Plan. After I chose the topic of my innovation with the guidance of Dr. Thibodeaux, as outlined in this COVA Reflection post, I was motivated to implement the innovation at work. The STREAM Camp that I proposed in our first course EDLD 5305, Disruptive Innovation, was wrapped up by June 2021. One of my original concerns of choosing a STREAM Camp plan was that it would not carry me through the entire program. After STREAM Camp was completed in June 2021, I was very focused on molding the topics of the course as we were taking it to fit current activities in my job role as a District Instructional Technologist for Killeen ISD. Although the vision shifted, I was still able to make a lot of connections to the STREAM camp topic. This allowed me to do much deeper exploration into the concepts of:
In EDLD 5314, Digital Learning in Local & Global Contexts, we had an opportunity to complete a literature review on a topic associated with our innovation plan. This research reinforced my beliefs about the importance of STEM Education in Libraries and the value of a library STREAM camp. It reminded me that one of the goals of the camp was to engage learners, particularly girls and minority students, in activities that may lead them to STEM careers.
Also EDLD 5314, Digital Learning in Local & Global Contexts, we updated our Innovation plans. This assignment helped me clarify my vision at work and while keeping my DLL work authentic. The research and preparation for this assignment solidified my beliefs and helped me communicate that libraries can indeed be the heart of the school and inspire a desire to explore and learn in students. Rather than being silent, somber places, the school libraries of the 21st century are places for students to rediscover the joy of learning.
Because of our work in this program, I mustered the courage to request to implement a considerable innovation. We added 3D printers to 26 elementary libraries, making a standard for all future elementary libraries in the district. In EDLD 5318, Instructional Design in Online Learning, I designed an online course for staff members (teachers, librarians, campus techs) to develop their 3D printing skills. The scope of the course within our learning management went beyond the manual skills of setting up the 3D printer and focused on making connections to instruction.
Another element of the updated innovation plan included Future-Ready professional learning for librarians. Designing professional learning opportunities for teachers has always been a large part of my job as District Instructional Technologist. However, throughout this program, as I was focused on library transformation, I became determined to bring meaningful professional learning to the librarians of Killeen ISD. When I left in January 2022, we were in the process of arranging for Shannon McClintock Miller to present. She is a renowned presenter and thought leader and advocates for Future-Ready libraries. I am not sure if that plan will materialize, but I am hopeful.
Part B – Analysis & Looking Forward
I believe that most of my innovation plan worked really well aside from a couple of small issues. The students that attended the STREAM camp were engaged and reported learning and having fun when they were surveyed. The planned innovations to a currently operation camp were:
Include a virtual learning component
This went very well, although most students preferred to attend in person. Of the 500 camp participants, only 10% were virtual. We made a big effort to prepare activities for virtual learners, but most students wanted to physically attend camp and be with their peers.
Have a separate part of STREAM Camp specifically for middle school students
The students enjoyed the camp. Planning this portion became challenging internally within the Learning Services department in my previous district as the elementary district instructional technologist. The elementary and secondary divisions of the department were each under different leadership and were taking different approaches to camps. Therefore this part was slightly confusing. Also, of the three weeks that camp we held, we were only able to host middle school students one of the weeks.
Implement 3D printing
This was especially tricky as the 3D printing can be a time consuming process, and students only attended camp for a total of 9 hours. Our librarians and camp staff did provide students opportunities to design 3D models, but time was limited to see projects through to fruition. Overall, learners were exposed to the concepts of 3D printing, especially at the middle school site. This is because the librarian that hosted the middle school students had the most experience with 3D printing.
What Worked & What Could Have Been Done Better?
The main part of the innovation plan that I did not have time to follow through with was a full evaluation of effects on student performance. Student surveys revealed that they enjoyed the Killeen ISD STREAM camp and had fun. However, we were not able to make a connection to standardized testing results or grades.
In EDLD 5315, Assessing Digital Learning & Instruction, I developed a plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the 3D printer initiative, which was a modified part of the innovation plan. It included taking surveys from students about their feelings about the library for qualitative data and frequency of visits for quantitative data. In December of 2021, I began taking steps to follow that plan and measure student perception of the library. Soon after that, moved to Copperas Cove Independent School District and became the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation. Therefore, I did not complete an evaluation of the 3D printer initiative as I had originally planned. For future innovation plans, I intend to include an evaluation phase.
- Understanding by Design planning process designed by Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe
- Fink’s Three Column Table featured in A Self-Directed Guide for Significant Learning
What could have been done better?
I think what could have been done better is to advocate for additional time for the camp. This could include having the camp all day or spanning two weeks. Multiple students requested that the camp be longer. The initial design of the camp for a total of nine hours of attendance was to allow for as many students as possible to attend the camp. Also, it decreased the need for a huge variety of supplies.
What lessons have been learned?
I learned a lot about planning and logistics. In late spring 2021, after much of the planning had already been done for STREAM camp, we found out there were additional funds available. The camp would be expanded by a third week and an additional 100 students. This complicated some of the planning, but in the end it all worked out! Sometimes those surprises can be blessings in disguise. When I had to scout an additional location for camp, I learned that one of my original locations was no longer an approved site.
Also, it was a blessing that we were slightly behind schedule in ordering our supplies since we would have to order additional supplies to account for the additional students. During the summer of 2021, my previous district hosted multiple camps in addition to STREAM camp. Because STREAM camp was a somewhat separate camp from the others, we had our own registration process based on a Microsoft form and email communication with parents. If possible in the future, the STREAM Camp registration process should follow that of the other camps. That would be less confusing for parents, who may have had multiple online locations for camp registration.
How do I plan to promote and communicate your innovation project?
As this innovation plan took place in my previous district, I do not plan to promote it any further. The district communications department did a phenomenal job of promoting the 2021 STREAM camp. After this summer’s STEM camp has wrapped up at my new district, I plan to include measurable data and update the article I drafted during EDLD 5317 Resources for Digital Environments. This summer the CCISD STEM camp will be promoted with flyers, emails to parents, and through social media.
It seems very fitting that in my new role I also am able to organize a stem camp. There are four main differences in the Killeen ISD STREAM Camp at my previous district and in STEM Camp in my new district, Copperas Cove ISD.
How will I apply what I have learned in the next innovation project?
The Digital Learning and Leading program has built in me some high-quality skills that I will continue throughout my career:
- Effective planning for significant learning outcomes
- Creating emotional calls to action
- Incorporating the COVA + CSLE models in instructional plans
- Considering global contexts in addition to local effects of innovation plans
- The importance of effectively evaluating innovation plans
I intend to incorporate each one of these elements in the plans that I propose. Also, I believe that if we are to truly innovate, we need to maintain a momentum of introducing new topics and not becoming complacent. One way to avoid complacency is to stop saying, “That’s how we did it before.” Instead, we should ask, “What are the possibilities?”
- Isomäki, A. (2021, June 8). 60+ innovation quotes and what they can teach you. Viima. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.viima.com/blog/innovation-quotes