5 Questions for Innovation: From What to How

As educators we are very clear about WHAT we would like to do in terms of innovation. However, are we clear on HOW we are going to do it? 

Very often in our PLN’s, we are sharing great ideas about ‘WHAT‘ to do. The WHAT is often shared in the form of a new technology or skill that helps to support innovative practices with our learners. It is no surprise that technology plays key roles in Innovation, the edtech explosion of our age has invariably affected our teaching and curriculum in many ways that we may not even be fully aware of yet.

Regardless of the innovation, I think we need to change our vocabulary, methods and strategies to not just share the ‘WHAT‘ it is that we are doing, but also more importantly the HOW.  Innovation is never just as simple as just implementing it. We need a plan. What context will it work best in? In what way will it specifically benefit learning within the classroom? More specifically, HOW will the great ideas be implemented, shared, created, and HOW they will impact student learning?

When considering WHAT innovative idea to try next in your own learning environment, consider these next 5 questions. I believe that they are essential to helping us figure out HOW to implement innovation:


1. Is it just a popular idea? Or are there research findings that help describe what does and what does not work?

2. How will this new idea or innovation work within a traditional school model? Can it work in a traditional school model? Does the learning context need significant restructuring for the idea/innovation to happen with success? Maybe you need to try it as an inquiry and find out first.

3. Are your learners ready to take on the WHAT? Can you anticipate what the learners will be able to do? It is important to understand your community of learners.

4. Is this something that you want to do? Is it addressing a need that you or your learners have? Will you receive support for the idea? Or perhaps you may even feel like the idea is being imposed on you, in which case, the HOW will look much different than if you really want it yourself.

5. Do you have a clear plan for HOW you will focus your time, effort, energy and money on the WHAT? Collaborative Inquiry is a great way to plan the HOW when it comes to implementing innovation. Strength in numbers, support, and everyone organizing the HOW together. Collaborating through inquiry also leads to a deeper understanding of the results that you find about HOW it worked.

If you can use these questions to help guide you in the process of the HOW versus the WHAT, then you will be better equipped to make use of the innovative ideas that abound via information technology and our PLN’s.

How will you implement your next innovative idea?

Deborah McCallum

c 2015



3 responses to “5 Questions for Innovation: From What to How”

  1. […] Engage in Inquiry, makerspaces, genius hour as ways to personalize learning and promote innovation […]


  2. […] to achieve. All the while, still ensuring that we are covering the curriculum. It also allows for innovation, collaboration, and connections to real […]


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