THE INNOVATION – GRADECAM by Milton B. FrancisDefense of the InnovationSelected innovationInnovative technology has impacted the world ever since technology was first launched.In this, the 21st century, that impact is constantly making a debut in different technologylaunches. The innovative technology tools: GradeCam, iPad, and the SMART Responseinteractive response systems identified previously, are just three examples of this 21stcentury technology innovation that is sweeping the global village. As a technologyscholar practitioner, one has to get involve in this process of technology innovation. Thisinvolvement may include choosing an innovative technology tool that should make animpact on the world, in particular the technology world that I choose to call the globalvillage. Of the three innovative technology tools identified earlier, my selectiveinnovation would be the GradeCam.This technology tool is a student-performance scanner that can be used in the classroomby both teachers and students to grade multiple choice tests. The GradeCam image-recognition software works with a camera to grade tests from bubble forms and togenerate statistics and reports on student performance to the teacher’s electronicgradebook, all within a second. This quick feedback helps the teacher to be able to usethe time gained, if these tests were graded manually, to focus on the evaluation of theassessment, thereby planning for the needs of different students within the classroom.This technology device would certainly be welcomed by the classroom teacher, and byextension the school, as time saving is an important factor of the education system.Selection justificationTechnology innovations are good, and they serve the purpose for which they weredesigned, however, not all technology innovations can be adoptable, as there are factorswhich hinder their acceptance. In the case of the iPad innovation identified among thethree innovations mentioned, costs and utilization play an important part in this decision-making. According to The Journal: Transforming education through technology, teacherinput is important in this decision-making, and one teacher stated ‘the iPad definitely hasa place in the classroom, but with the devices set to launch at $499 to $829 a piece, sheworries they could be cost-prohibitive’. This is not the case with the GradeCam, asaccording to EdNET Insight: Insight networking success, they would only cost $1.50 perstudent per year online. Yes, this bit of technology instrument can be used online as well.Offline usage includes a camera costing approximately $98, or the teacher may use thedocument camera, if one exits, or the built-in computer camera. The offline accessibilityalso includes a district license fee of $2 per student for the software and a school sitelicense one-time fee of $3 per student. Overall, this would be more affordable than theiPad.
With respect to utilization, all the teachers would be able to use the GradeCam, as allteachers are involved in testing. For the iPad, only some subject area teachers wouldbenefit. For example, the teachers of language arts (English Language) would benefitmore than the mathematics teachers, due to the nature of the respective subjects, as theiPad is more of a reading tool, with less, if any, numerical data and solution.The selection of the Gradecam over the SMART Response interactive response systemsis due to its easy accessibility and simplicity. The teachers, some of whom are notversatile in the use of technology, would, at this time, appreciate the GradeCam over theSMART Response interactive response systems. After becoming proficient in the use ofthe GradeCam, with its simple assessment and grade recording, then the SMARTResponse interactive response systems could be introduced. This set of systems,produced by the organization that created the popular SMART board technology tool, ismuch more detailed in assessment and provide more needed information for the teacherabout the students.Pre-Diffusion of GradeCamGeneration of the ideas for InnovationNEED: Teachers at my school are inundated with work:Preparation of unit plans, daily lesson plans, daily homework assignments, unit tests,quizzes, internal mid semester examination, internal end-of-semester examination.The grading of homework assignments, tests, quizzes, internal examinations, and theState’s external or Regents examination, administered at least twice per year.After school tutoringStudent smart goals meetingsReview and analysis of student work after each test and internal examinationsMonthly bulletin boards postingsMonthly classroom inter-visitationsRESEARCHResearch idea – Tami Porter, cofounder of GradeCam Inc., was a teacher who feltoverwhelmed by the grading of students’ work. It demanded much of her time andattention. One day, on her way home from the school where she taught, she stopped bythe grocery. Watching the clerk scan her purchases, she thought, “Wouldn’t it bewonderful if teachers could grade and record student work that easily?” She did notrealize, at the time, that the idea for GradeCam had just been born.
Research background – The research on the benefits of formative assessments seems tobe convincing. For example, after a 10 year review of approximately 250 studies onassessments, British professors Paul Black and Dylan William reported: “Firm evidenceshows that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that itsdevelopment can raise standards of achievement. Indeed, we know of no other way ofraising standards where such a prima-facie (evidence-based) case can be made.”DEVELOPMENT: GradeCam was developed over years of collaboration withtechnology experts experienced in designing productivity tools. It came directly out ofthe classroom experience of the husband and wife team of educators, Tami and RickPorter. They worked with a team of computer programmers led by their son, to developGradeCam, and put it through extensive field testing. In diagnosing the problem withGradeCam during its development, the developers were careful in using the camera thatis compatible with the software. Not all kinds of camera can be used. GradeCam isgeared to classroom teachers, with the intention of easing their excessive work load andimproving instruction through timely feedbackCOMMERCIALIZATION: The GradeCam package consists of a 300 DPI scanner witha special built in camera, GradeCam score credit labels, and GradeCam bubble sheets. Inaddition, the user must include a computer (desktop/laptop), and the downloadedGradeCam software. GradeCam uses the Internet, technology conferences andexpositions, as well as word of mouth as its main tools for marketing. This word ofmouth is in the form of feedback for those teachers who have experienced its use. Theinnovation is distributed through software vendors. The product is relatively inexpensivewhen compared with other almost similar products on the market.The Innovation-Decision ProcessThe husband and wife team, Tami and Rick Porter, founders of GradeCam, has beendeveloping educational products for over ten years. GradeCam was conceived in 2003.by Tami Porter, former middle school teacher. She, along with her husband and theirson, fully developed GradeCam over the next three to four years. The goal of GradeCamis to improve education by reducing the stress of everyday teaching. This has been theorganization’s theme, as it developed GradeCam, as can be seen in the timeline below.Timeline Chart/TableGradeCam can reduce the stress that the teachers at my school are undergoing. It is asolid and reputable organization that can be trusted. It will also offers free support to theteachers if they are having trouble using it. The teachers will be convinced, and willappreciate the gesture, if given the opportunity. Performance of the students willimprove overtime, as the teachers will now have more time to be engaged in tutoring, abadly needed focus, at this time. As I have been emphasizing, GradeCam is relativelyinexpensive, so its affordability will not harm the school’s budget. So, members of theschool board, I implore you to take up the offer and adopt this innovation for, not only
the teachers, but the school, knowing that in the long run we will all benefit as the mainstakeholders of this prestigious institution.It’s worth mentioning that since 2008, Rick Porter has been CEO of the GradeCamCorporation, operating out of California. On January 13, 2010. the company launchedGradeCam Online, a new Internet GradeCam product. Also, later that year, August 24,2010, the company formed a strategic partnership with Califone, another technologycompany that has been in existence since 1947, to promote informed instruction.Members of the board, as I mentioned above, Internet access is now available with theuse of GradeCam. Therefore, if you are wavering, still not knowing whether to adopt theoffline innovation, the online one is now available, and the cost is extremely inexpensive.It only cost $1.50 per student per year. Now, that’s what I called a bargain.GradeCam S-CurveIn the process of diffusion, the innovation adoption experience a phase that relates to thestatistical shaped bell-curve, except that, emphasis is not placed on the latter part of thiscurve. Rogers (2003) said ‘the time element of the diffusion process allows us to classifyadopter categories, and to draw diffusion curves’. He further said of these curves, ‘whenplotted over time on a frequency basis, the cumulative numbers of adopters plotted,results in an S-shaped curve’.The GradeCam software experienced that curve, in that when it was first introduced tothe commercial market in 2003, at technology conferences, it did not shown signs ofgrowth or gratified recognition. The first sign of innovation, being adopted by innovators,was at the beginning of 2004. The rate of innovation was slow then, and that affected thesales of the GradeCam software during the year 2004 – 2005. During the ensuing years,sales started to increase at a rapid rate, as not only innovators were involved in itspromotion, but the early adopters of the innovation saw the need for the GradeCam in theclassroom.That rapid rate decreased the following year, 2007 – 2008, but there was still and increasein the sale of the software, as the early majority became the latest adopters. To date, thesoftware has achieved approximately 80% of its innovative adoption, as the late majorityadopters now see the need to use the software. Before the laggards get involved in thisdiffusion process, which would signify the timely death of the technology, the originalinventors, introduced a modified version at the start of 2010.However, before the laggards get involved in this diffusion process, which would signifythe timely death of the technology, the original inventors, introduced a modified versionat the start of 2010. This new version is called GradeCam Online, where teachers cannow grade the papers at a reduced cost than the previous ‘offline’ version. I suppose thismodified version is now a new product which may go through the diffusion phase oncemore, but probably at a faster rate, knowing that the product was prior introduced.The Perceived Attributes/Rate of Adoption of GradeCam
The GradeCam innovation was targeted at the education sector, particularly theclassroom environment. As the inventors of the product said ‘GradeCam is a student-performance scanner for the classroom’. (GradeCam website). The innovators and earlyadopters of this innovation were, indeed, the classroom teachers.Rogers (2003) identified five perceived attributes/strategies of innovation: Relativeadvantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. He associated eachof these attributes with the rate of adoption of an innovation by the social system. TheGradeCam inventors use some of these attributes in diffusing the innovation. Thestrategies that are most persuasive in convincing the adoption of the GradeCam aretrialability and compatibility.The trialability attribute is used when GradeCam Inc. participates in technologyconferences and expositions. Triability, according to Rogers, is the degree to which aninnovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. Attendees at the conferencesand exhibitions are given the opportunity to test the innovation. Rogers also said that apersonal trial can dispel uncertainty about a new idea, and that trialability by a socialsystem is positively related to the rate of adoption of the innovation. GradeCam is noexception, as was seen on the Sigmoid function/curve, commonly called the S-curve, oflast week’s wiki update.In addition to the perceived attribute of trialability, the GradeCam inventors also use thecompatibility attribute in trying to persuade potential adopters of the innovation.Compatibility, according to Rogers, is the degree to which an innovation is perceived asconsistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.Educators value their job, so whatever instrument that can be introduced to improveperformance is welcoming. For example, the task of grading student work can be tediousand time consuming, so the adoption of an innovation that can lessened the burdensomeload, would be heart warming to educators. According to the innovation’s inventors,GradeCam does that and more. It not only grade papers, but it is a tremendous teachingtool, as well as a powerful paper-management device. (About GradeCam). However, notall educators would readily accept this innovation as soon as it is made public. Someeducators would wait for a long time before adoption, or would even reject the idea.These educators are who Rogers called laggards.In my opinion, the laggards of the GradeCam innovation are the educators who are notversatile in the use of technology, and who are more traditional in the future perspectiveof the route of education. To best assist this group of adopters, training programs and/orprofessional development should be held, so as to promote the use of technology as a toolfor educational improvement. Also, these innovators should be encouraged to attendtechnology conferences and expositions to get a first-hand view and knowledge of the useof technology and its impact on education. Simultaneously, at these conferences andexpositions, the trial use (trialability) of GradeCam could be done.Having leveled off at approximately 80% of the niche market (as can be seen on the S-curve of last week), the GradeCam innovation needs to include the perceived attributeobservability, if it wants to meet the critical mass in the education sector. Whyobservability? The diffused innovation needs to be widely observed by other members of
the education sector who knows nothing of its existence. According to Rogers, theobservability of an innovation, as perceived by members of the social system, ispositively related to its rate of adoption. With this attribute in place, GradeCam couldincrease its potentiality within the classroom, thereby diffusing in depth in the educationsector.GradeCam’s Critical Mass and Change AgentsAs I continue my proposal to the Board of Directors in considering the adoption of theGradeCam innovation, the focus will now be on the ‘point’ of critical mass and on someof the key personnel in the organization. However, before addressing these twoscenarios, the Board might ask the question: If we were to adopt GradeCam, whichmethod do you think would be a better choice; a centralized or a decentralized approach?I think that a centralized approach would be much better, because that would cost theorganization much less. Instead of distributing a GradeCam to each teacher after theadoption of the innovation, the concentration of the equipment could be donedepartmentally. For example, the six teachers of the mathematics department wouldreceive one instrument that would be used by only the members of that department. Therewould be no exchange among departments, unless it’s absolutely necessary. To overseethe operation of the GradeCam from the time it was adopted to the update of its latestsoftware, I would recommend some key personnel to the position of change agents.A change agent is who Rogers (2003) called ‘an individual who influences clients’innovation-decisions in a direction deemed desirable by a change agency’. This agency,ladies and gentlemen of the Board, is our organization, or better yet, our school. Inaddition to myself, as the technical expert on this innovation, I would include theprincipal, the main leadership of the institution. Both of us will lead the way in thisadoption, as we aimed at fulfilling the duties of a change agent. Rogers also identified theroles of this agent, and listed them as follows:1) The need to change clientele2) Establishing an information exchange relationship3) Diagnose problems4) Create intent to change in the client5) Translate intent into action6) Stabilize adoption and prevent discontinuance7) Achieve a terminal relationshipBut, how can these seven roles effect positive social change within this school?First, the faculty, especially those who are not technology proficient, would be trained inthe use of the innovation spearheaded by GradeCam Inc., the intention of which is tomake the adoption process real. Secondly, as change agents, we would share the latestinformation about the innovation with the faculty on a regular basis, as soon as it is madeknown to us by innovation’s creators. Thirdly, recognizing and diagnosing the issues orproblems of the faculty with respect to the innovation will be one of our priorities.Fourthly, while processing the faculty’s adoption and use of the innovation, our intentionwould be to transform the entire faculty as to the usefulness and necessity of GradeCam.
Fifthly, our intention would be made known to these users of the innovation, as they seethe real necessity of it. That is, the purpose of not just grading tests, but analyzing themfor student evaluation, which, in turn, would drive lesson planning, making it moremanageable than before. All these would be done, so as to stabilize the adoption ofGradeCam, preventing a discontinuity. Finally, this whole process would really not be asuccess if new change agents are not emerged from the adopters. These new changeagents would then play our role, as new teachers join the faculty. This change agenttransformation would terminate the relationship of GradeCam adoption between theprincipal, me, and the new change agents, formerly the adopters of GradeCam.Members of the Board, as you have seen on the Sigmoid function, or the S-curve, theGradeCam has already achieved its point of critical mass within the social strata of theeducation system. This occurred between the years 2005 and 2006, at 10%, when a steeprise in the curve began. At this phase of the innovation, over 10% of the ‘early majority’of classroom teachers exposed to the innovation, started to adopt it.The Organizational AdoptionInnovation-Decision TypesAdopting the GradeCam as an individual would be more than welcoming, but I am notthe only one who will be utilizing this software, so it would be better if the organizationadopts it.Organization innovation-decisions are two-fold; it may be done collectively orauthoritativelyRogers said ‘collective innovation-decisions are choices to adopt/reject an innovation thatis made by a consensus among the members of a system, and authority innovation-decisions are choices to adopt/reject an innovation that are made by a relatively fewindividuals in a system who possess power, high social status, or technical expertise’Innovation ChampionThe GradeCam innovation is expected to be adopted by the authority of the organization,the Board of Directors, who is being advised by me, the instructional technologist of theorganization, who is also their technology expert.As the individual with the highest technology position in the organization, I amautomatically the innovation champion.An innovation champion, according to Rogers, is an individual who throws his/herweight behind the innovation, thus overcoming indifference or resistance that the newidea may provoke in an organization.Reasons for AdoptionIncrease the speed with which the teachers grade tests.Maintain accurate record of students’ scores
Do immediate analyses of student-workGive immediate feedback to students on their performancePlan lessons in a timely manner as soon as feedback is givenPlan differentiated lessons that will meet the needs of different students, effectivelyUse the time spent on grading test as tutoring hoursImprove and enhance the teachers’ skills in the use of technologyA Win-Win SituationIt behooves you that the adoption of the GradeCam innovation by this organization willbe worthwhile for its continued improvement.All stakeholders will reap the benefits and success that this innovation will bring to us.