Reflective Post: Innovation Means Learning at Work

This week, the Disney Cohort is reading Harold Jarche’s article called Innovation Means Learning at Work. Since we’ve asked each of the nine members of this cohort to write a blog post reflection on the reading and include some questions that would spur our conversation we will have on Tuesday, I am doing the same. Below is my reflection:

Jarche: The network era workplace requires both goal-oriented collaboration and opportunity-driven cooperation, because complex problems cannot be solved alone.

Me: The benefits of being part of the network era are only applicable if we are actively engaged in those networks. This past week, we ran concurrent studio sessions on the forms of internal and external communication we use as part of Innovation Diploma. We had each cohort member create both a Twitter and WordPress account and commit to using both Slack and Folio as internal communication tools and goal capturing and reflecting. Now, I am not naive, setting up a Twitter account and choosing your URL and theme for WordPress don’t quite mean that all of the student learners will begin networking, sharing ideas unprompted and contributing their valuable voices to conversations around the community, but it is an important step to bring social networking into school rather than ban its use or treat it as a danger we need to teach others how to navigate. Currently, most of our iD members are not sharing ideas regularly unprompted, but I do believe that’s where we’re headed. I recently read Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It that makes the accurate claim that simply inviting our student learners to be bloggers and assigning them prompts is not enough. I very much agree. At the end of this piece, the author poses a worthy question of “how to make ownership over ideas happen” so that students will want to contribute their voices. To me, it’s involving our student learners in real issues, experimenting alongside them, involving them in decisions, and setting up regular feedback loops. We can start by setting up the conditions, exposing them to people and places with rich networks in place, and making sure that we are providing enough time for our students to explore and find what makes them passionate enough to want to be part of or better yet lead those conversations.

Instead of asking, what have you done for the company this week, we should be asking what ideas you have had and what have you done to test them out? It might get us away from measuring and doing things that should be automated in the first place.

Me: This passage is a great reminder for me to build and test my ideas regularly. I am someone who tends to read voraciously, have a million ideas, and be building numerous project ideas in my head…sometimes so much is up there that I feel guilty I can’t build them all *right now.* This passage helps me to remember I just need to build and experiment more of my ideas regularly.

Innovative and contextual methods mean that standard processes do not work for exception-handling or identifying new patterns.

Me: This passage reminds me of the hard but needed work on assessment that we continue to build for iD. The standard method of grading does not work, and if you’ve been following our journey long enough, you already know we don’t use traditional grades. Last year, we spent a good deal of our time giving narrative and written feedback, engaging in one-on-ones with our students and experimenting with a few badges. I felt really good about the fact we didn’t use grades, and I do feel like we provided feedback regularly, but one obstacle we faced was that all of our student learners are used to getting grades. This kind of feedback was new, and furthermore, some didn’t understand the importance of tracking their own growth and milestones. Tracking who completed what activity or milestone made us realize we actually missed a component of a traditional gradebook – we missed the data it would quickly generate for not just the facilitator of the learning, but for the learner to see (not just hear anecdotally) what he/she was missing or where he/she had room to grow. This year, we’ve given our assessment system an upgrade. We’re using Haiku Learning Management System to help us track student work and we’ve embedded our learning outcomes and correlated rubrics (all inspired by the work of EdLeader21) directly into that system, so that we can pull up an “assignment” and provide narrative feedback as well as use embedded rubrics as a conversation tool to help us better articulate the growth we think is possible for each student learner. We continue to stay away from grades and are using a four tiered model with descriptors rather than numbers. We are also giving our one-on-one meetups with each cohort member an upgrade by piloting some new protocols that will hopefully make the feedback more targeted and meaningful.

We’re trying to build an effective knowledge network that cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each of our students – we don’t have it all figured out, but I can say we’re moving the needle in a positive direction.


One thought on “Reflective Post: Innovation Means Learning at Work

  1. Great post, Meg, I’ve enjoyed reading it. Empowering employees is a fantastic concept, as well as the idea of flawless connectivity and shared purpose. I think handheld devices can be of great importance in that area, as they serve both as a learning tool and a networking one.


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