“Moving Towards Next Gen Learning”

Calkins quadrants

Blended learning, personalized learning, project-based learning, student-centered learning – there are so many terms but what is the difference and overlap between them? Andy Calkins shares a quadrant graphic model to make sense of current reforms in the education-innovation space around four main degrees: time, place, path, and pace. Calkins gives examples of all four types of innovating; the most disruptive innovations push all four dimensions. Where does your work fall on the chart?

“Education Innovation”


In Pakistan, families are increasingly recognizing the value of education in reaching success. However, Dr. Najam explains that the country has a major supply problem of providing quality schools for those students. Dr. Najam recognizes that teacher-led innovation is of critical importance: “The key realization has to be that teachers are the key to educational quality enhancement. If we need to get to students we will need to first get to teachers.”

“Design Thinking for Social Innovation”


What increased impact might you be missing by using traditional problem-solving techniques instead of design thinking? This informative article by Brown & Wyatt, two of IDEO’s top dogs, outlines where the advantages of design thinking could have helped projects wildly succeed in India and Africa rather than being merely effective.They believe design thinking can be applied in almost every field: “Design thinking crosses the traditional boundaries between public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. By working closely with the clients and consumers, design thinking allows high-impact solutions to bubble up from below rather than being imposed from the top.” They outline and illustrate three broad stages of the design thinking process: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. How could you use design thinking to take it to the next level?

White House Official: “More Tech Key to Education”


The White House recognizes that technology based innovation is making its way into classrooms across America but, “we’re just not taking enough shots on goal,” says Kumar Garg, an assistant director for learning and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. There are many ed-tech programs or apps out there for teachers; the Education Department is also working on a “developer’s toolkit”, a handbook for entrepreneurs interested in creating technology specifically for the education market.  The real problem is that teachers don’t know how to sift through the myriad options and find the best ones to use in their classrooms, or how to implement them effectively. It’s critical that teachers have training in these programs and how to respond to data in order to maximize student achievement.

“People Create Change, Not Products”

big_512px-3D_Full_Spectrum_Unity_Holding_Hands_Concept_740_300_croppBen Wilkoff asks: what trade-offs are you making in professional development? He asserts that people and interactions are chiefly important in bringing about meaningful and impactful change in schools. Far more than focusing on products or content, schools should leverage their people and community. When teachers drive change and feel supported by a team to improve student outcomes, the potential results are maximized.

“Building Innovation Partnerships”


Butler addresses what he sees as the lack of true transformational partnerships between schools and their partners. He pushes schools to imagine partnerships that go beyond transactional relationships focused on funding to relationships that include key stakeholders working across organizations to develop real innovation. Butler asserts that greater levels of change can occur when partners work together to change how things are done and have tough conversations about drivers of culture and achievement. Transformational partnerships represent an untapped opportunity for school redesign and school improvement.

“What do the innovation economy and young black men have to offer each other?”

Small genius

What is it that the disadvantaged students need to succeed? Mike Green discusses how disadvantaged young black men in particular need access to the language of innovation and STEM education. Knowledge and mastery of the language and skills of the innovation gives students access to high-growth and high-income entrepreneurial opportunities in the future. Green believes students need to be challenged with critical thinking projects and educated by people who are thinking in innovative ways. These innovative educational opportunities will positively impact students in both academics and life.

“Innovation in Education: Not just a term for startups”

big_2014-03-18-InnovationEduLevittLevitt shows that teachers and innovators share similar habitual core traits. Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s DNA describes five traits of innovative thinkers: associating, questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting. Levitt pulls on her own experience as both a teacher and the founder of a startup to show that each innovative thinking competency is used frequently in the classroom. Great teachers = great innovators.

“Next frontiers for lean”

Lean production is spreading to more and more fields. McKinsey analyzes how it’s grown from beginnings in business in the Toyota production line to various businesses and is now moving into the public sector. Lean is all over the place: hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and asset management to name a few. The next step for lean is to link feedback more directly to product design and marketing. Applying these lean ideas to new systems is creating innovation and increased effectiveness in unexpected ways. We think there’s tons of opportunity for the application lean principles to the education sector.

“Escaping the Education Matrix”


What story are students learning about themselves at school? Steve Hargadon explains that our current school system is built to produce students who are excellent at following. He believes those practices are dissonant with the narrative we tell students about valuing their creativity and potential. Parents and communities could step up and drive the change for a new school system since the small number of people in power may not have an incentive to change it. Hargadon imagines a world where parents and students are able to choose how they learn and their opinions are valued in building schools that respond to their needs. Hargodon’s ideas support an empathy-driven approach that incorporates all stakeholders into the school design process.