Innovation

Our traditional educational system, developed from an industrial model that emphasizes conformity and standardization over rapid prototyping and innovation, is not serving students in a way that today’s global challenges demand. It’s not just high-tech growth industries that demand cutting-edge, creative thinkers and problem solvers, but most jobs in today’s global, information-based economy. Disruptive technologies from the business community (think Airbnb, Lyft, Tesla, etc.) highlight how our world is changing at an explosive rate - all while many of our schools remain frozen in time. That must change as we shift the emphasis from control, conformity, and narrowly defined measures of student success that have all but lost their relevance to environments where a culture of constant innovation thrives. Where every student, teacher, administrator, and stakeholder routinely uses Design Thinking to nimbly develop, analyze, and scale customized solutions to the needs of the local learning community. In this way, innovative teaching and learning practices such as Problem and Project-Based Learning, Competency Based Learning, flexible scheduling, and and the like are adapted to meet individual student needs as part of an Open Way Learning framework. When used effectively - and especially when used in concert - such innovations provide a step-change in student-driven creativity, engagement, and real-world problem solving. . Other education stakeholders, especially classroom teachers, can use the innovation mindset as a way to constantly reflect on their practice, look for ways to quickly learn and grow, and then take a “fail forward” approach to solving messy problems faster and better than they ever would have in a closed, traditional model.

How To Implement

Easy

Do school faculty encourage positive disruption in student work?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Are teachers willing to fail forward in their classrooms by experimenting, reflecting, refining, and improving?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Are administrators encouraging the process of innovating by acknowledging the inevitability of mistakes and a fail forward attitude?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Do school faculty encourage positive disruption in student work?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Would you describe your school’s or your local school’s culture as innovative? If not, what are the obstacles and opportunities regarding innovation in your school?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Do teachers, students, parents, and administrators frequently brainstorm and strategize on ways to continually improve the school?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Do parents understand the value of this experimentation process and recognize the overall aims of each new innovation?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Would you describe your school’s or your local school’s culture as innovative? If not, what are the obstacles to innovation in your school?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Are teachers and students applying Design Thinking to their work in systematic ways that have led to legitimate improvements?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Is the school identifying weaknesses and trying new methodologies that are non-traditional, but research-based (i.e. PBL, CBL, etc)?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Has your school or district begun connecting with other schools to develop networks to enhance the development and scale of innovations?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Are teachers and students applying Design Thinking to their work in systematic ways that have led to legitimate improvements?
A Helpful Resource

The above links and the video tips below are examples from the resources used in the research and development of 'Open Up, Education!' They, along with the references cited in the book, are intended to be used with the following Discussion Tips to allow you and your peers to adapt the key elements of Open Way Learning to your own school's context. A more comprehensive listing of such resources can also be found in the Open Way Learning course on the Odigia online learning platform.

Discussion Starter Checklist

Video Tips

Other owl ingredients

Collaboration

Creating innovative teaching and learning environments requires an intense level of collaboration organized around a crystal clear shared vision. Radical collaboration that relies on a diverse set of perspectives and the collective creativity of the entire learning community - students and faculty - as they bring creative prototypes to bear on the often messy challenges we deal with in education. This also applies to modified governance frameworks where distributed leadership is highly encouraged by using teacher-powered schools frameworks.

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Free Knowledge

We learn more from each other and are able to respond to the needs of our learning community when information is open. The information age has changed the paradigm regarding the acquisition of knowledge. No longer dependent on formal institutions, today’s learner can easily find what she needs, when she needs it. Rather than fighting this current, educators need to learn to leverage it by shifting away from hoarding tendencies, shifting from being “teachers” to “learning guides,” and encouraging open, transparent sharing in their classrooms.

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Open Way Culture

Open Way Learning is not a methodology that tends to work with "window-dressing" changes for your classroom, school, or district. It is a fundamental shift in culture away from the comfortable traditions that produce relatively predictable results that may be “good enough,” to a new paradigm that welcomes uncertainty, demands continuous improvement, and produces learners ready to take on the challenges in a rapidly changing world. It’s a compelling model for the pioneers ready to create change in an educational system that stubbornly resists it.

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