Alive in the Swamp

Assessing Digital Innovations in Education


Technology is constantly changing and improving, and although it has been implemented in schools, education systems struggle to change the sentiment that 'school is boring'. Michael Fullan and Katelyn Donnelly (2013) explore this dichotomy and have developed an index based on pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge, to help the education system implement reform. Education systems struggle with teacher alienation, learner engagement, student achievement and equity, and lack of enthusiasm from students and teachers alike. Meanwhile it is also experiencing the pull factor, which is expanding digital innovations. Technology in education has experienced enormous growth in terms of investment, information created and shared access. However the impact on education has remained murky. This is due to the lack of cohesiveness between technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Fullan and Donnelly found that pedagogy and implementation support is very weak in education systems, resulting in technological systems that are not directed at changing the system. They make six recommendations to improve the implementation of digital innovations in the education system.

The use of technology in education requires educators to change the system, in which technology is irresistibly engaging to students AND teachers, elegantly easy to adapt and use, pervasive access to technology 24/7, and steeped in real life problem solving. The index developed by Fullan and Donnelly allows the ability to systemically evaluate new companies, products, and school models. The index is based on three components, each divided into three subcomponents, which are then measured on a 4 point scale.


1. Clarity and quality of intended outcome

- Parents, students, teachers, schools, and school systems need to have a clear understanding out the learning outcomes and goals in relation to the use of digital innovations.

2. Pedagogy Itself

- Emphasis needs to be placed on student centered learning, enquiry, constructivism, real world examples, problem solving, risk taking, and personalization.

- Teachers must be activators who push students to think and uncover morals, values, and beliefs.

3. Quality of Assessment

- Summative and formative assessment that the teacher relies on to motivate and activate the learner, and the student relies on to monitor and motivate his/ her learning.

System Change

1. Implementation Support

-When teachers are not provided with training, development goals, support, dialogue, proper infrastructure and professional development, they will revert to traditional methods and practices of teaching

2. Value for Money

- the price of the product has to be reasonable in terms of the value it brings to the system. As a general rule, the product should produce twice the learning outcome for half of the cost of the previous method.

3. Whole system change potential

-Little support is needed from central management, and schools give each other feedback, and integrate innovations on the basis of previous experience.


1. Quality of user experience/model design

- the digital innovation should be absolutely irresistible for the learner, well designed, and students should have little difficulty learning new skills, participation should increase as the innovation is learner centered and fosters participation, co-creativeness, and collaboration

2. Ease of Adaptation

-there must be high speed internet, built in access to global resources 24/7 and students should be able to access platforms and content from where ever they are.

3. Comprehensiveness and Integration

-Technologist and pedagogues need to see themselves and each other engaged in multiple and collective learning, including situation in which students can also teach the experts.

- the digital innovation must provide equal access to opportunity and contain comprehensive sets of material and supporting learning mechanisms.

What is the one part of the paper you think every classroom teacher should know when integrating technology into the curriculum?

Based on the paper, I believe it is most important that teachers have a clear understanding of pedagogy. In order for individuals to be effective teachers, they must understand and have developed the underlying theory and practice of how to best deliver learning. As teachers, we need o have clear, concise, and quality outcomes. In order to engage students in learning, we need to have a clear understanding of the purpose behind what we are teaching. If we cannot make the connections ourselves, we cannot realistically expect our students too either. It would not be fair to assess them on unclear outcomes, with little or no relation to the purpose of the digital innovation being used. As Fullan and Donnelly both outline, technology can have potentially negative consequences if not used properly. As a teacher, it is most effective if we teach as an activator, promoting student enquiry and problem solving, through real world examples.

"When appropriate technology will be used in my classroom to bring the curriculum alive, making it relevant and engaging for students, in which it is used, through real world examples, to foster creativity, problem solving, and the sharing of knowledge and ideas."