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

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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 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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