Must We Choose Between Education and Innovation?

A blogger for MindShift addresses questions that often go unspoken in our current education system. He discovers that one question may lead to many more, and still finds himself searching for a definite answer.

Aran Levasseur, writer for MindShift, raises a significant question that often goes unspoken- “Does Our Current Education System Support Innovation?” He subsequently breaks this down into smaller questions, and attacks them one at a time in his online article.

We can’t just buy iPads (or any device), add water, and hope that strategy will usher schools to the leading edge of 21st century education. Technology, by itself, isn’t curative. Human agency shapes the path.

In light of this dynamic, two critical questions need to be asked and provisionally answered when integrating technology into education. The first question, while obvious at first glance, isn’t always fully articulated: “What are the educational goals of technology integration?” The second question is equally important and often more elusive: “Do the current systems and processes support the integrative and innovative goals?”

Furthering the discussion on the current education systems, Aran brings up an important point, that of tradition. Many education institutions are set in their ways, refusing to adapt and change. As the remainder of the article points out, there is a slow, often potholed, path to creating change- but it is possible.

Because integration and innovation with technology can be so disruptive to established systems, innovation is more likely to take root if it is grown on the margins. The margin can be a small percentage of class time that’s carved out each week for experimentation, or it can be a technology incubator designed to function beyond the conventional boundaries of school systems.

Wherever the appropriate margin is identified for technological innovation, the climate within the margin needs to be such that teachers and students are supported in exploring the edges of uncertainty. This is critical because uncertainty and experimentation are perceived as a waste of time within the current model because there is curriculum that needs to be covered and tests that need to be taken within a prescribed schedule. One can’t begin to have more time and space for innovating in class unless one loosens the reigns on traditional objectives and creates more flexibility and leverage within classrooms and schools.

To read  Aran Levasseur’s entire article on innovation in education, visit the MindShift website.

Published July 19, 2012