Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Islands of Innovation Model: Opportunities and Threats for Effective Implementation of Technological Innovation in the Education System

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Islands of Innovation Model: Opportunities and Threats for Effective Implementation of Technological Innovation in the Education System

Article excerpt

Introduction

Modern digital technologies--particularly multimedia and ICT--are characterized by a transition from systems that are closed, static and monistic to ones that are open, dynamic and pluralistic, ones which enable broad access to information and knowledge and invite social and scholastic interactions that transcend the constraints of time and place. These technologies offer a new interpretation of concepts such as learning, school, authority and the teacher-student relationship (Alexander, 2006; Anderson, 2004; Venezky & Davis, 2002). The widespread penetration of these technologies into all levels of education and training in recent years has dictated considerable changes in teaching-learning-training processes (Aviram, 2000; Kozma, 2002). This is evident in the formulation of new technology-oriented pedagogical concepts (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

During the past decade, we have witnessed extensive implementation of educational technology as an integral part of teaching, learning and training processes (Cunningham, 2009; De Freitas & Oliver, 2005; Fullan & Smith, 1999; Halverson & Smith, 2010; Selwyn, 2010). This involves the development of unique strategies for adapting multimedia and computer technologies to educational needs and projects of innovative technology implementation such as the 'interactive board', the 'computer for every teacher' or the 'computer for every student'.

Analysis of contemporary professional literature reveals that despite the immense inherent potential of educational technologies to enhance and improve teaching, learning and training, educational systems usually resist the organizational and pedagogical changes that result from their implementation (Charter, 2008; Fullan, 2001; Levin & Fullan, 2008). This resistance presents severe obstacles to the implementation process, which lead to disappointment from the limited impact the technologies have on the school culture (Cuban, 1986), a disappointment that is common to most such endeavors (Fullan & Smith, 1999; Mioduser, Nachmias, Tubin and Forkosh, 2006). As early as 1987, Papert aptly described the stagnation of the education system and its resistance to technological innovation, when he formulated his implementation paradox, claiming that "the more suited innovative technologies are to the existing system and the fewer changes needed to implement them, the more marginal the impact they will have" (Papert, 1987).

Studies on technological innovation implementation in education systems show that contrary to the recommendations for leading models of innovation implementation (Levin & Fullan, 2008; Rogers, 1995; Tyack & Cuban, 1995), the decision about how innovations should be implemented in education systems is usually an imposed top-down policy, that does not involve principals and teachers, and does not take into account the organizational culture, practices, norms and inherent resistance to change (Ogobonna & Harris, 2003; Vaillant, 2005; Zimmerman, 2006). The research literature also indicates that most projects tend to ignore the need for a change in the organization's culture, norms and basic assumptions (Schein, 1990) as a prerequisite for effective, meaningful implementation of innovation (Fullan, 2006; Hargreaves & Goodson, 2006; White, 2007).

The search for suitable methods of implementation has led education system leaders over the past decade to examine effective implementation strategies (Sarason, 1995). In contemporary literature we find two main implementation models: Islands of Innovation and Comprehensive Innovation. In the Islands of Innovation model, the innovation encompasses only a small part of the organization and is usually focused on a particular content area or a particular task (Mioduser et al, 2006). This model usually leads to first degree changes which mainly involve changes in the characteristics and behaviors of the organization, without a significant change in the organization's culture, norms and basic assumptions (Argyris & Schon, 1978; Raz, 2002, 2006). …

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