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ERIC Number: EJ1145392
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
How Educational Ideas Catch On: The Promotion of Popular Education Innovations and the Role of Evidence
Carrier, Nathalie
Educational Research, v59 n2 p228-240 2017
Background: Within the wider education industry, a large quantity of ideas, practices and products are routinely promoted as useful innovations. These innovations span many forms such as software applications, open source courseware, online learning platforms and web 2.0 technologies. Coupled with this promotion, there is increasing interest and debate around the possibilities that novel innovations can have on changing education practice and providing more effective learning solutions. The media plays an important role in facilitating the travel of educational ideas: the advent of the Internet and social media technologies allows for an abundance of innovation to be promoted and shared with and between educators, and, in classroom settings, the increasing use of technologies such as tablets results in the advertisement of numerous new education applications. For the educator, there is the difficult challenge of knowing how to sift through this material and separate those innovations that may hold value for their classroom situation from those that have gained wide appeal, but may or may not be substantiated. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the persuasion techniques used across a variety of documents promoting a selection of popular education innovations of different types. Questions included: (1) How are popular education innovations promoted in the media? (2) What contributes to the appeal of these innovations? and (3) What is the role of evidence in this process? Design and Methods: The paper examines how seven innovations of different types have been promoted in the mass, professional and social medias through a content analysis (a research technique used to code and interpret text) of 63 documents including non-peer reviewed journal articles (education magazines and trade publications), mass media outlet newspapers and online blog posts. The content analysis involved inductively creating and labelling sub-categories of six "persuasion criteria": "compatibility"; "accessibility"; "practicality"; "evidence"; "credibility" and "appeal." The analysis performed was not examining the worth of the innovations themselves, but rather seeking to understand how the innovations were promoted. Findings: The language that was used to promote the innovations was often emotive or descriptive, rather than evidence-informed. Documents tended to emphasise the "appeal" and "credibility" of innovations over and above the evidence that supported, or did not support, them. Where evidence was cited, it was usually anecdotal, related to personal experiences, provided general statistics about problems that the innovation sought to address, or presented statistics related to use of the innovation. Conclusions: The results of this study offer insight into why various kinds of innovations, irrespective of whether or not they are supported by an evidence base, nevertheless "catch on." The study highlights the need for practitioners to develop the evaluative skills to distinguish evidence-based innovations that are effective, and of real value, from those that may simply sound or look good.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A