The Fear of Innovation

There are many fears in education right now; many of them coming from the teacher-side of things. They range from:

  • not teaching a lesson as planned;
  • not meeting every student’s needs;
  • not providing a safe environment for students.

Fear also lies in innovation.


I came across this poster when I visited Educate 1-to-1 this morning and related it back to comments that came up in conversation with a teacher last week.

I had met with a class to support the students and teacher with blended learning strategies – in particular Google Apps for Education (GAFE). The session went well, however it was the comments in talking with the teacher afterwards that not only surprised me, but also made me think a little.

I meet with many teachers; I would say this takes up 3/4 of my workload. From teachers who are early adopters to teachers who just need a step in the right direction to integrate technology into their classes.

GAFE is new this year for us. It is being well received early on, once teachers are able to see the powers of it, especially at all levels of technology comfort among teachers. This one particular discussion however was interesting; in talking about some of the fears/obstacles that come with going online, the teacher says to me:

Pete, when I tell my colleagues what I’m trying in my class, they say to me: “are you nuts?”

This comment clearly relates to the level of fear and misconceptions that come with not only adopting, but understanding innovations that are unfamiliar. The comment was referring to liability for the most part, and the fear of something happening on their watch in the classroom while students are online, and not wanting to be responsible for it.

Granted, managing a class full of students when they are working with pen and paper is much more easily controlled, as you can see what’s going on. This fear of not being able to control the students while they are working online (ie: are they chatting about work, or play?) is something that I hadn’t considered, but still consider it to be just another reason to fear the inevitable: change.

This is one of my biggest challenges in the role that I’m in: selling the inclination that there are tools online that can supplement student learning with possible benefits. I get it – it’s not something that you can make people feel comfortable with easily – there’s always going to be restraint. I do feel that this restraint however, is fear of innovation, and that it relates to denial as outlined in stages 1, 2 and 3 from the poster above.

My questions for you:

  1. What strategies are successful in making strides with people through the stages of innovation above?
  2. Which stage would you consider the most difficult to overcome? The least?
  3. Are these stages accurate?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

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