All too often, those of us involved in building innovations for impact fall hostage to a type of technological determinism in which designed product(s) are treated as responsible for achieving outcomes on individuals—rather than with individuals positioned as impact agents. However, many of the innovations we design, and the goals they were designed to enable, require human engagement, foresight, and integration to unlock the potential and require an enabling ecosystem for success. Shifting from a product-centric view of innovation to a more impact-centric framework focused less on the design and more on what people can do with it, requires a shift in positioning on where the innovation lives. In this manuscript, an ecological framework is offered in which the designed product is treated as one component of a dynamic innovation system, with innovation positioned as a shared accomplishment that is distributed across the designed product(s), active participant(s), skilled facilitator(s), and enabling ecosystem(s). At the core of such a framework are engaged individuals, becoming innovators in their own right, as they grow the capacity to envision new possibilities and integrate components of the innovation (e.g., technologies, concepts, expert models, other perspectives) to realize goals in which they are invested and within environments in which this innovation will have impact.
About Sasha A. Barab PhD
Sasha Barab is a Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he co-founded and serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Games and Impact.
Dr. Barab is an internationally recognized Learning Scientist who holds the Pinnacle West Chair of Education, and who has researched, designed, and published extensively on the challenges and opportunities of using games for impact.
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