Inventiveness–the bridge between inventions and innovations–gives students license to use their creative imagination. And today’s classrooms need more of it.

During ISTE 2018, educational technologist Kathy Schrock presented a variety of tools and strategies to help boost inventiveness in the classroom.

Invention is the creation of a product or the introduction of a process for the first time, while innovation occurs if someone improves on an existing product or process. The link between those two, Schrock said, is inventiveness–the ability to brainstorm, to be flexible, to elaborate, and to see original ideas come to fruition.

A few questions can pinpoint whether a classroom is conducive to creativity and inventiveness:
1. The classroom’s physical environment offers flexible resources
2. The classroom’s learning climate has students actively participating in discussions, allows for collaboration, and values different points of view
3. Students are engaged, seek different viewpoints, take risks, reflect on learning, and have time to think creatively and develop ideas

“Something might need to be done in the classroom to help students,” Schrock said. Educators might consider “giving students freedom to create assessments and allowing varying formats, setting aside creativity time, using technology to broaden assignments, or using unconventional learning methods such as having students create a TED Talk to review a chapter in a textbook.”

Approaches like these encourage students to use empathy, collaboration, and creative imagination skills, she added.

For instance, teachers could:

  • Tell students stories about situations that accidentally led to new products such as the Slinky or the Post-It Note. Talking about interesting failures or epic fails, such as Bic for Her pens, can get students engaged and talking about all kinds of ideas.
  • Ask students to write headlines for a news article focusing on inventions in the year 2050 and see what they can imagine.
  • Pick a well-known object or tool and ask students how they might improve it or change it for the better.

Among Schrock’s many resources is this Tallyfy guide to design thinking, which helps students think about innovation as it relates to helping different consumer audiences with real-world problems. Educators can use it to guide students through the design thinking process. The six steps in the process focus on understanding, exploring, and materializing: Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement. Schrock suggested adding a seventh step for reflection.

There are many strategies and tools aligned to those seven steps that educators can use to encourage inventiveness and design thinking in schools. To access Schrock’s extensive inventiveness resources, click here.

Empathize (including polling tools, social media, and experts):
1. Poll Everywhere
2. Google Forms

Define:
3. Wufoo
4. Airtable

Ideate (including mapping tools, real-time collaboration tools, and curation tools):
5. Popplet
6. Stormboard
7. Feedly

Prototype:
8. Padlet
9. Animation Desk
10. Google Slides

Test:
11. Twitter
12. Polling tools

Implement:
13. Adobe Spark tools
14. Weebly

Reflect:
15. Blogger
16. Evernote

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura