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Trying something new

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I was ill all last week (SUX!) and, while I was still reading as much as possible, I had a hard time writing my normal posts. I definitely don’t want to lost momentum on this blog, so this week, I’m going to try something new (for me) and take the Seth Godin approach to blogging by having a short post every day!

Today’s topic: Innovation?

A coworker sent out this blog post to our shared email list:

I spent this morning discussing it with several colleagues. While the definitions given in the post are very fuzzy (where would you place the lightbulb, computers, or Uber/AirBNB on this continuum?) I think the upshot of the piece is that words like “innovation,” “transformative,” and “disruption” have become empty, sexy buzzwords for a lot of edTech (and instructional design) because many of the approaches we like to think of as “innovative” are either not new at all and/or are merely novel, or new again. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with trying different things, approaches and technologies can often be pushed instead of taking the difficult road to analyzing current approaches and frameworks and instigating real change, where necessary.

What do you think? Do you see real innovation happening in L&D and ID? What does real innovation look like?


  1. November 16, 2015 - Reply

    Hi Kristin, I got the ping back to my post and found your comments quite interesting. One thing I’ve been thinking about since writing that post is the temporal quality of innovation. How does time effect “innovation”? At present I’m actually leaning towards an idea that you can’t really say it’s an innovation until there’s been change. It’s almost as if innovation is a term that can really only be applied retrospectively. It’s completely at odds with current usage of the term, but I think it’s an interesting way of framing it.

    In that way you could say lightbulbs and computers have created and affected great change in many more ways than their actual design or technology gives them credit for. They changed the way people work, how they work and what kinds of work they can do. At the same time I think it’s too early to tell what change Uber and AirBNB will have, so perhaps they’re much more closely aligned with the Invention stage – there’s potential sure, but how much has it actually affected?

    • November 16, 2015

      That’s a great point, Tim. I got into a debate with colleagues this morning. Based on what I gleaned from your definitions, it seemed like computers fit the bill, but not necessarily lightbulbs. But that isn’t the point. 🙂

      I agree that fundamental change is the key. And thinking about innovation as a term that can only be applied in retrospect makes a lot of sense given the time necessary for real change to occur.

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