Innovation can occur in many areas of education, said keynote speaker Frans Johansson.

Innovation can occur in many areas of education, said keynote speaker Frans Johansson.

Bringing together teachers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and outlooks can drive innovation in schools, said keynote speaker Frans Johansson during the opening general session of the National School Boards Association’s T+L Conference in Denver Oct. 28.

“All new ideas are combinations of existing ideas,” he said. “The best chance at innovation is when we combine things from different fields. …Many times, if [ideas] are closely related, they’re not very innovative.”

Innovation, as defined by Johansson, occurs when someone takes the knowledge and wisdom of their network of colleagues and combines it with something completely different.

Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, said innovation can be found in the creation of those diverse intersections. The Medici Effect refers to the proliferation of new ideas–and the burst of creativity enabled by the Medici banking family in Renaissance Italy. He said innovative individuals and teams generate and execute more ideas–and diverse teams generate far more ideas.

“Find inspiration from fields or cultures other than your own, and dare to explore the connections between them,” he urged a room full of educators and technology leaders. “And prepare your students to innovate.”

He also stressed the importance of expecting and accepting mistakes and failure, and he noted how students are already used to dealing with failure from their experience with video games. Johansson said students don’t look at failure or mistakes as though they are the end, but rather as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and try again.