145/365 Early Adopters Don’t Wear Name Tags

Adoption Timeline Graph

I’ve had the graph above (or some iteration thereof) in my head for the last few weeks.

As our district preps for rolling out a massive infusion of technology into the hands of teachers and students over the next four years, I find myself wondering if each person I sit down with at a meeting is an innovator or a laggard or somewhere in between.

We are developing plans for helping first the teachers and then the students become used to having these new devices become the way of doing business. Part of my job in all of this has been developing the foundational course we’ll be asking all teachers to complete before they receive their first devices. It will include the rudimentary explanations of functionality – power, synching, applications, etc. It will include new guidelines outlining expectations and commitments for the teachers for and from our department and the amazing team that handles the wires and switches in the district.

Building the course, I’ve started to consider the early adopters, the early majority, and the other segments of the population, and I find myself wishing they would identify themselves not by their approaches to the machines, but to how they approach what these machines can do.

When planning the course, our team wanted to make clear that the basic operational instructions were optional so that those folks who knew where the power buttons were could move on to the new equipment.

Now that I’m building the thing, I am becoming aware of the differences in adoption. A teacher can be the earliest adopter of a device or technology. They can know the scripts, the codes, and the apps that make the thing do all the whiz-bang things it does.

This doesn’t mean, though, that they know how do adopt the device (whatever it may be) as a portal for shifting the practices of learning and teaching within our schools.

Those people are out there. Our district, and any other, has its own population of early thought adopters who see not only the devices but the possibilities. These people would likely see the possibilities without the devices, it’s just happy serendipity that both are arriving at the same time.

It’s likely these early adopters of practice find themselves in a distribution similar to the one pictured above. What I’m striving to remember is they will not wear name tags. Nor will they necessarily be the ones first in line to pick up their new tech. They find themselves stationed throughout the district.

What will make the difference, what is most important as we introduce this new technology across time and the district will be recognizing when the innovators and early adopters of ideas and practices also happen to be the innovators and early adopters of stuff. Those are the people to whom we will be able to turn to improve education for all children and adults in the district.

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