Friday, February 12, 2016

What Does Innovation in Education Mean To Me?

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Missy Schmidt

Thanks to the likes of +Will Gourley and +Jonathan So (read Jonathan's take on it here), I recently spent a significant amount of time thinking about what innovation in education means to me. What's my take on it? How would I define innovation with respect to the work that we do in Education?

These questions, and subsequent reflection(s), caused me a lot of angst as I considered what my definition of innovation is. As I wrestled with the idea, and stopped trying to narrow my focus to just one simple response, I opened the flood gates and just let everything come out. When all my ideas about innovation were laid out in front of me, I started picking up the pieces and organizing them in a way that made sense to me. 

One of the things I realized was that my definition of innovation was not only connected to my experiences, but to the people I interact with, watch, and learn from on a daily basis. MY understanding of innovation is connected to a variety of people inside and outside of the Educational field. This may not sound earth shattering to you, but it was a significant realization to me as I reflected on innovation.

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Tsahi Levent-Levi
Without further ado, here is the cleaned up and edited version of what innovation in education means to me:

It's is about being FREE (fresh, relevant, & exciting)! This approach to innovation is a process, not an event. Based on my experiences, it requires the following -

  • a lot of iteration where things are messy and look bad before they can look good
  • taking risks, failing, and being resilient
  • being open to learning AND unlearning
  • meeting students where they are at and listening to what they want/need
  • being flexible (to bend but not break)
  • making connections to, and using, the best practices of other disciplines/professions/professionals, and
  • becoming a connected educator (social media)
What I have listed above, especially the part about becoming a connected educator has allowed me to stay FREE from the darkness that wants me to remain stagnant and “old school”. I do believe there is a time and place for everything, but I am also a firm believer that educating our students means that we prepare them as best as we can for the unknown. What better way to do that than to model innovation for them so that they can work hard to be fresh, relevant, and exciting with whatever they choose to pursue.
I would love to hear your thoughts about what innovation means to me and more importantly, what it means to YOU.


  1. Rolland,
    Great post on innovation - totally agree with the importance of us as educators being the innovation models!

    1. Thanks Katrina! I would love to hear more about what innovation in education means to you. Would you consider writing a blog post about it??