This week we were asked to play the Diffusion Simulation Game, in order to learn about what it’s like to be a change agent and to get other teachers to adapt innovations in a school. As mentioned by the Department of Instructional Systems Technology (2019), successful diffusion of innovations can be challenging, will require persistence and that sometimes appropriate strategies do not work. While playing this game the first time, I found it to be frustrating, as I felt that I had to keep going backwards with my thinking and that some of the strategies I thought would work, did not. I ended up getting 13 people to adopt the innovation project the first time, which according to the game is better than most, however, I was not satisfied with those results. I played the game a second time, and was able to get 18 teachers to adopt the peer tutoring program. The second time, I decided to get to personally know every staff member, and to spend a significant amount of time talking to them before I tried to implement any demonstrations. I also learned that it was very important to get the Principal and several of the influential teachers on board with the project first. They were then able to further influence other teachers and demonstrate the value of the program. It was also important to talk to the teachers that may oppose the idea initially. In talking to them about the program, I was able to get them to see the positive aspects of the program and they decided not to campaign against it. If I had not done this, I feel that it would have been more difficult to convince others of the benefits of the program. Another strategy that was very helpful, was to provide a site visit to the teachers that were interested but not willing to try it until they had seen proof that it worked.
One strategy that I thought would be useful, was the professional training workshop. I tried to use it both times I did the simulation, at different times throughout the game, and neither time was it successful. As a teacher, I know that I am more inclined to try out something if I have some training in it and can learn about the benefits of it from an expert. The main issue in the scenario, was that the workshop was too theoretical and not practical for practicing teachers. This will be important for me to keep this in mind if I want to use this strategy in the future as I will need to ensure that the workshops are designed for teachers and to get some insight into what the teachers actually want to learn in a workshop. Another strategy that was not particularly helpful, was sending out brochures and trying to spread the word through print. There was either too many other things circulated to the staff at that time, or they found it to be too impersonal and therefore not effective. This is something I will also keep in mind moving forward. The face to face conversations and demonstrations seemed to be much more effective.
Overall, I found this experience to be very eye opening. It highlighted the importance of getting to know staff members before trying to implement any changes and the importance of persuading staff members that are well respected and highly valued by their peers. Having the support of the principal and these types of staff members goes a long way in influencing many other staff members quickly and efficiently. I ended up trying the simulation a third time, just to see what happens when an innovation is made compulsory. As I thought would happen, the number of teachers willing to adapt the peer tutoring project decreased as they did not value the project. Through forcing teachers to implement a change, they are less invested in its success and therefore are less likely to follow through with it. This is something I will keep in mind for my Technology Innovation project as I do not want the use of technology to feel forced. I think students are more likely to get value out of the experience if they can see the importance of the exercise themselves and if I can relate it to their everyday lives. It will also be important to get the students that have the most amount of influence in the class to be active participators.
Indiana University, Department of Instructional Systems Technology. (2019). Diffusion simulation game. Retrieved from https://www.indiana.edu/~simed/istdemo/