Digital innovations that produce at least twice the learning outcome for half the cost of our current tools?

Is our school’s digital technology innovation a good idea?

Derek Bartels – Executive Officer ICT, Lutheran Education Qld

Are we seeking digital innovations that produce at least twice the learning outcome for half the cost of our current tools?

2014 is seeing the ramp up of “digital innovation” across Lutheran Education schools.  This innovation may be promoted by the school as BYOD, 1 to 1 devices, implementation of another learning management system etc.  As leaders, I am sure you are always asking the question to whether the particular digital learning initiative is a good idea or possibly a waste of time and money. Sometimes we may answer this question by employing the ‘time will tell’ strategy or it must be a good idea because another school said it is a good idea or we have implemented sound research and prepared staff and students.

When being able to see success of innovation in a school, Dr Margaret Llyod (QUT) has stated that there is greater diversity between classrooms than between schools. You may agree that this is apparent with any innovation let alone digital learning however if the innovation is flawed before it starts then true success by any classroom/learning environment will be absent.

Something I always ask is whether the learning would be any different or deeper with the use of the digital innovation/strategy as opposed to without it. This is currently a very easy question to ask as most current teachers have not experienced schooling  where this premise has been tested so they are able to easily relate to past paradigms of none, substituition or ineffective uses of digital technology.

Michael Fullan and Katelyn Donnelly  have recently carried out some intensive research based around assessing digital innovation in schools and producing an index to inform leaders and systems. Part of their research was to investigate numerous digital innovations across schools and analyse why a number of innovations failed to achieve the desired change. One finding was of no surprise in that the teaching/ learning relationship between teacher and student must be different in the contemporary space and was one of the key issues for such innovations to fail. Fullan and Donnelly refer to this as the need for the New Pedagogy.

“The ‘New Pedagogy’, as we have defined it, consists of a new learning partnership between and among students and teachers with teachers as change agents and students in charge of their own learning.” Fullan and Donnelly


Other findings included:

  • We should seek digital innovations that produce at least twice the learning outcome for half the cost of our current tools
  • To achieve this, three forces need to come together: technology, pedagogy, change knowledge or how to secure transformation across an entire school system.


This recent research and easy to use index is elaborated in the “Alive in the Swamp” –

I encourage you to read it and also view this short video related to this current work

We are continually working with schools to enable effective change in digital learning and innovation and together we can assess, promote and help implement rich and meaningful contemporary learning utilising digital technologies.