To meet the disruptive challenges of a global, knowledge-based, innovation-centered economy, scholars must apply new collaborative technologies to diffuse and scale systemic educational solutions.
Concluding Remarks: Elizabeth Vanderputten, DR K-12 Program Officer, NSF
At a time when our country needs to transform its K–20 schooling system in order to meet the challenge of a global, knowledge-based, innovation-centered economy, scholars working together to diffuse and scale systemic solutions is vital for success. Stokes (1997) urged that research investments center in Pasteur’s Quadrant: deepening theory through gaining traction on pervasive real-world difficulties. However, current incentive structures and funding mechanisms for scholars undercut this goal. Coburn (2003) defined scaling up an educational innovation as encompassing four interrelated dimensions: depth of changes to educational practice and policy; sustainability of maintaining those changes over time; spread to other practice and policy contexts, and shift in reform ownership from innovators to adopters. Dede added a fifth dimension to extend Coburn’s framework: evolution when adopters revise the innovation in a way that it is influential in reshaping the thinking of its designers. Yet scalability is often not considered in funding and developing potential educational improvements. For decades, innovators in other sectors of society have used Rogers’ (2003) strategies for knowledge diffusion to attain rapid adoption of new practices. Opinion leadership, compatibility, simplicity, trialability, and observability are illustrative key components of this approach, yet the research community has not applied these insights to its work. Collaborative technologies provide new mechanisms that provide leverage on these challenges of effective scholarship, if we choose to work together to use them.