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Innovation is a key part of successful school transformation

school-innovationDon’t let the headline mislead you: This story won’t tell you how to innovate. Still, being open and willing to take a risk or two can put your school district on the path to something great. And adopting new policies or practices can set you on the road to modeling innovation for your district and others.

What works for one school won’t necessarily work for another–success is not one-size-fits-all. But school leaders can follow a few suggestions to spur innovation in their districts.

First, in order to support and encourage innovation, it’s important to realize that today’s “old” tools were once considered the latest technologies.

(Next page: Encouraging innovation)

For instance, notes an infographic, the emergence of the horn-book, which featured lessons printed on a wooden paddle, was once the most cutting-edge invention. When the pencil arrived on the scene in mass production, it made for a more practical tool than slates and chalk.

Once the computer emerged for personal use, students and educators had access to almost limitless learning potential. From there came handheld graphing calculators, interactive whiteboards, personal response systems, and then tablets.

Second, school leaders must be familiar with current technology trends and also must be able to see what’s coming down the pipeline.

“Today” technologies with “tomorrow” potential include:

  • 3D printing is immensely popular right now and is being used in classrooms across the country to engage students in STEM subjects and help them make real-world connections to classroom lessons. What’s the future of 3D printing and how might it impact education in the next five years?
  • Flipped learning, while not a brand-new concept, is another major technology trend and classroom innovation. Students watch lessons or instructor-provided lectures at home and use classroom time to complete “homework,” working collaboratively while learning and solving problems.
  • Learning analytics involves examining student performance and assessment for early performance difficulties. It also lets educators differentiate instruction for students.
  • Game-based learning immerses students in motivational and challenge-based environments in order to help introduce them to new concepts or help them master lessons. For example, the University of Florida is creating a game to help students experience Colonial Williamsburg.

Third, adopt new practices to model and encourage innovation:

  • Embrace change: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Trying something you once dismissed might surprise you. Flexibility is key.
  • Experiment more often: It will help increase comfort level when it comes to trying new things.
  • Never stop learning: Educators and students learn side-by-side in today’s schools, and when educators continue learning, their peers and students benefit.
  • Become an early adopter: Early adopters are often given a lot of freedom to try new technologies or practices. They are also considered leaders and help their fellow educators become comfortable with new and unfamiliar technologies or methods.
  • Take a chance: There are lessons in failed experiments, and stepping outside the box can lead to surprising discoveries.

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Laura Ascione

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