Tips and Lessons From Innovations

It was a very busy first day of the Innovations conference for the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC).   In addition to giving a morning presentation on communities of practice to disseminate the unique successes and challenges of the CTC’s Convergence College Network (CCN) community of practice and staffing an exhibit hall booth for National Science Foundation ATE Centers, we found time to attend a handful of conference presentations.

Here are four things we learned:

  1. In-class game and quiz tools have grown easier to use. Kahoot offers real-time scoring for multiple choice questions pulled from an existing subject database or created from scratch; Quizlet’s flashcard sets – customized or from an existing pool – can be used a number of ways, both in the classroom and at home as study aids; and Socrative delivers a real-time polling feature that works well for teacher-based review work. All of these tools are free, easy to set up, and gives instructor’s instant feedback on student understanding.
  2. Student persistence might be influenced by strategies that don’t include curriculum or teaching styles. Two studies – consisting of numerous student surveys/interviews – suggest that student success may be tied to staff and faculty expressing personal interest and also to non-cognitive reinforcement with “I believe in you”-style reassurances.
  3. Small gestures from instructors can make a big impact when it comes to persistence and retention. Those same two studies indicate that simple interpersonal adjustments matter. Calling a student by his/her name. Revealing something personal (“I like cats too”) can humanize instructors. Reinforcing the idea that struggle means growth is happening.
  4. Innovation isn’t a wish or a culture; innovation is a discipline that requires practice. It’s hard work that can be messy and inefficient. Mistakes will be made. It takes time. It’s not something you check off on a box to be trendy or appear forward-thinking. Innovation isn’t something you learn from a PowerPoint. You have to do it over and over. Successful innovation requires – among other things – a specific and inspirational vision, a creative process that allows new ideas, a strategy to effectively sell the value of the new idea and make it seem urgent and necessary.
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