Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#Innovation: What exactly do we mean?

The word 'innovation' is all the rage in education these days. There are even new positions in education popping up with the word 'innovation' in the title... Coordinator of Innovation, Director of Innovation and Innovation Specialist for example.

I've been thinking though... we keep using this word, but like many words, I'm sure we all have a slightly different definition of what exactly the word means.

Webster defines innovation asa new idea, device, or method; the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods. 

You can even read this article from 2008 with 30 different definitions of the word 'innovation.'

Now, I'm sure we can all probably agree that innovation deals with doing something differently and doing something new. That seems to be pretty consistent and recurring in the definitions of innovation.

But, here's the thing... simply doing something differently or doing something new may align with the definition of innovation, but who's to say if that different and new are actually what's best for student learning?

For example... it was probably pretty innovative when we designed and structured our education system around cramming as many students as possible in one space to learn the same information as efficiently and as quickly as imaginable. That was pretty stinkin' innovative at the time and most definitely met the needs of society... things have changed a little since then though.

A more recent example... buying 700,000 iPads for students in Los Angeles with Pearson curriculum was probably considered pretty innovative, however, anyone involved in that situation would be wise to distance themselves as much as possible. New and different don't always equal better for student learning.

So, feel free to keep using the word innovation, but also keep in mind that we need to constantly evaluate and define what innovation is and what it looks like. This is especially true since it's no secret how quickly our world is changing. 

In closing, just because it was new and different very well may match the definition of innovation, but new and different don't always mean best for student learning... and over time, new and different become old and the same...