Friday, April 18, 2008

Innovation in Education Survey

I received this email a couple of weeks ago and wanted to encourage others to participate:
We are a team of graduate students studying innovation and change at the University of Minnesota who are researching how much influence teachers do, or do not have, with regard to decisions concerning teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment, and overall public education innovation. We are studying "forums" such as blogs, where people gather to share values. For a variety of reasons, we have been unable to find an easy conduit to initiate a discussion with teachers. As a result, we have turned to blogs, such as your own - an innovation in itself - to attempt to engage you in dialog.

We have set up The Education Innovation Blog, as a place where we hope to gather your stories, thoughts and opinions on innovation and creativity in education - both what would benefit you as a teacher and what would benefit your students. The blog includes a link to a 10-minute survey that we have developed. We hope this survey will serve as a starting point for discussions. We would very much appreciate your taking the survey and sharing this request with as many of your colleagues as possible. If you find this survey/blog interesting, please post it on your blog so other teachers can see it. ALL SURVEY RESPONSES WILL BE CONFIDENTIAL! The survey will close as of April 30th, however the blog will remain active and results and discussion of this project will be posted there.

Your postings to the blog will be public. If you prefer to remain anonymous, please post them to our e-mail address,, we will strip them of identifying information and post your remarks anonymously.
If you have any questions, please e-mail us at Thank you, we hope you will choose to participate and assist us in our research!

Ben Cashen, Mike Fink, Kristi Mueller, Jen Trochinski, Sarah Waldemar, Wendy Wustenberg, Kun Yang
I completed the survey today, which asked questions about barriers to and encouragement of innovation in the classroom. Unfortunately it looks like there hasn't been any participation on their blog, and I suppose I should email these poor graduate students and tell them why:
  1. They picked the worst time of the year to do this--it's testing season!
  2. For all intents and purposes, a blog is not a forum. If they want to create a dialogue, they should create a simple social network or actual discussion forum.
  3. The reason they have not found "an easy conduit to initiate a discussion with teachers" is because as much as teachers like to share and collaborate, no such conduit exists. This is partly on purpose; teachers are wary to participate in any online "forum" because they feel they can never let their guard down, lest a errant student, parent or administrator with an agenda wanders into the fray and finds something they don't like. This is why teachers disguise, hide or exclude themselves on blogs, forums and social networks. The other reason is that no one has come along to solve these problems. I am grateful for the community of education bloggers I have learned about over the past year, but it still lacks what these students are seeking.
I hope, however, that some readers will participate. The survey can be found here on the Education Innovation Blog.