The Impact of Innovation in Education
In the field of education, school leaders are constantly working to improve their practices, the quality of educational programs, and overall school programs. These improvements are designed to help students succeed, whether through accountability measures such as high-stakes testing or through general programs that contribute to the overall well-being of students. By definition, innovation is “the act or process of innovating through a new method, idea or product”. Innovation is an overused term in business and industry that has recently become popular in educational terms.
How does innovation affect education?
When looking at the U.S. education system, there have been many changes in the way education is provided since the United States was founded. In 2021, educators are highly aware of the need for continued collaboration with colleagues, and there is a general consensus as educators that we simply cannot deliver the same teaching practices we did more than 25 years ago.
As the great philosopher Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. In the business and industrial world, innovative thinkers are responsible for many expected normal operations that were not even thought of years ago. Goods and services, such as the shipping capabilities offered by innovative apps on our smartphones, TV/video streaming platforms, Amazon and Walmart that deliver items within 24-48 hours (sometimes by drone) and More mobile food delivery services powered by innovative ideas exist simply because creative thinkers see a need for these goods and services.
These concepts we take for granted today were once ideas drawn or developed on a whiteboard in a room full of brainstorming. All of these ideas stem from the notion that innovation is critical to the mindset of the world’s consumers.
Recent educational innovations and their impact
As in the consumer world, innovative practices in education are essential for new growth and change. When examining educational innovation practices, innovation is more than technological innovation. Innovative practice in education involves how we use technology and harness its power.
Furthermore, educational innovation can be as simple as doing things in new ways, requiring a different approach, process, product or strategy. For educational leaders, we strive to continually redesign educational concepts to meet the needs of diverse learners, paving the way for relevant, personalized, and responsive innovation for students in today’s classrooms and schools.
Educational innovation can lead to better overall outcomes in a school setting. Innovative classrooms are packed with students who are developing stronger communication skills and building engagement among their peers. The personalized learning and differentiated opportunities that educational innovation practices provide students are key components of preparing students for a globally competitive workforce in the 21st century. In this digital age, students learning in innovative classrooms are likely to retain more information and processes at a deeper level of understanding.
Educational innovation is not limited to students or teachers. Communication apps, surveys and other innovative programs allow parents and guardians to become more involved in their child’s school and can foster greater engagement and interaction between students, parents and school staff.
Over the past decade of education, a variety of innovative trends and practices have emerged. The first is Problem-Based or Project-Based Learning (PBL), in which students solve identified problems and use innovative practices, collaboration, and creative thought processes to come up with new and imaginative approaches to common problems.
Additionally, the PBL approach is popular because it often combines multiple disciplines into a single project, thereby creating and promoting active engagement, learning, and deeper understanding for students. Ultimately, students see and experience the rewarding moments of tackling a problem from start to finish and creating new and unique solutions to that problem to improve the group affected by the initial problem or challenge.
The next innovative practice is the Professional Learning Community (PLC). As educators seek to continuously develop and improve their own practices and methods, the PLC model enables them to gain valuable input, advice, and ideas from their own schools and from people across the country and around the world.
The PLC model is achieved through technological innovations such as sharing resources through multiple learning management systems provided by Google and Microsoft. The influx of virtual and blended learning brought on by COVID-19 has actually increased the amount of interaction among educators through the use of Zoom and Google Meet, as well as professional learning networks established through various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With the world of knowledge and connections at the fingertips of today’s educators, these PLC communities are being used to better serve our students.
Another example of innovation in education is not necessarily advancements in technology, but advancements in what education looks like and how it can best serve students. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a relatively new approach to education that takes into account the social and emotional components of students attending school and builds educational practices around providing the tools, strategies, and support students may need to succeed in school, while building on their Navigating challenges in the physical environment or past traumatic experiences they encountered.
Innovative educational practices are critical to producing graduates equipped with the tools needed to succeed in a rapidly changing global society. High-quality learning outcomes are critical for students, and exposing them to innovative educational models will only improve their readiness.
As society moves in the direction of technological advancement, creating the conditions in our schools to nurture and support innovators and educational entrepreneurs is key. Fundamentally improving education as a whole, including the quality of teaching, and the availability of innovative tools for learners, teachers, parents, communities, and society are strong reasons for innovation in education.
While technology is a key component of innovation, remembering the human element of the learner is also absolutely critical. As useful as innovation tools are, their effectiveness depends on learners, and providing them with appropriate exposure to innovation tools can only help them understand how to use them properly. When integrating various technological innovations, we must consider potential benefits and challenges while developing these innovations into successful teaching practices.