Nano-Funding, grass roots investment.

Imagine Sally, a primary school teacher had a great idea for doing something different in her classroom with technology that the school didn’t have. Sally works out how much it would cost and find’s it is $1200.00 for the equipment and software. Instead of giving up when told there is not loot for this, she applies to a scheme whereby she can make it happen. In order to get the loot, Sally needs to find 4 othyer teachers who are willing to help, and that is worth $300 per teacher. All five of them work on the idea so that work in all their classrooms. The gear is purchased and Sally runs with the idea. Each of the other teacher’s take a turn to use it. At the end, they evaluate their experiences and if it turns out it was beneficial, that gear is then available to others along with the use-case.

Dave, a high school teacher would like to use a website or service that isn’t on the ‘list’. He applies to use it, and agrees to put 40 hours into a use-case evaluation using a proxy-network for the experiment. As it turns out the site/service is of use and the use-case is collected and documented for others. If Dave want’s to keep using it, he finds 4 other teachers who are willing to try it out, and acts as the ‘chair’ while they do give it a go. If the result is beneficial, then the site/service is unlocked for all, along with the use-cases.

Karen, a team leader, want’s to help teachers learn about technology. If she get’s 4 teachers willing to learn about something new she can access some time to help them off class, but has once again has to propose how it will be done, what will be done, and how it will be evaluated. The five spend a few hours after school working on it, then try it in their classroom as a short trial. If it seems to work, then Sally is given $500 toward’s a relief teacher so that she can take a day out to use as professional development.

There are so many ‘small’ changes that could be made to how loot is distributed to teachers that only need nano-funding, to build a grass roots cycle of innovation. Shared investment means each party putting something into the pot. As teachers generally have no money to spend, and stuck on award-pay-scales – it seems that they are most valuable to other teachers when they contributing ideas, enthusiasm and collaborative effort. Thi seems to be what systems want and yet find it so hard to hand over loot from the bottom up.

Nano-funding of ideas to my mind have the potential to offer a realistic impact on culture and practice, together with pressure on ‘the top’ to get the strategy right first time and reduce wastage, as the bottom is giving them near real-time, organic advice and use-cases that simply don’t need heavy investment or lengthy, complex roll-outs and perhaps improve productivity and performance.

Just an idea, as I chatted about a $100 device today.