Innovators’ Toolkit

Eric von Hippel (2005), a scholar who studies technological innovations, suggested lead users, those individuals who tend to develop new applications of technology are most productive and contribute the greatest innovation when they are provided with a toolkit that affords:

  • The ability to complete the entire trial and error process- This is particularly important for innovations in education as designs cannot be tested unless they are used with learners in the intended situation. While pilot studies can help refine educational designs, redesigns must be informed by feedback from classrooms. Frequently, new educational technology designs are tested with other teachers before being deployed with students.
  • Design within the available solutions space- Solution spaces are bounded by the controllable aspects of the local IT systems and budgets. Designs, for example, that require teachers to use expensive additions to be added to the LMS will fall outside the solution space.
  • User-friendly tools- When elucidating the technology acceptance model, Davis (1989) established the role of ease of use in the intention to use technology. This extends to toolkits for designing innovations; teachers are more likely to use tools they find easy-to-use as it is associated with more efficient work.
  • Modular libraries- Modules are components that can be designed once and then reused for similar projects. A toolkit that provides this capacity will also lead to greater innovations in technology-rich teaching and learning. Mathematics teachers who use a toolkit with a graphing module can focus their efforts on using the module rather than recreating it for each course.


von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.