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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reverse Engineered Innovation

The definition of Innovation: "Something newly introduced, such as a new method or device."

Such a simple definition. It's interesting that just by introducing a new device it is considered innovation. But is it really? With innovation being a big part of many recent systemic educational frameworks, we have to think past the device itself, whether it be iPads, smartphones, netbooks etc. and ask ourselves why such technology will make a difference and what that difference would look like. A keynote I listened to recently said this:

"if you were to fast forward your life 5 years and everything was perfect in every way, what would that look like?" so many of us strive for change, but projecting what that is can be the most difficult part. I then translated this into a question of innovative pedagogy.

"if you were to fast forward your classroom 5 years and everything was perfect in every way, what would that look like?" Immediately many of us think technology, Web 2.0, collaborative spaces, game based learning, augmented reality and social networking. Now it goes without saying that much of these technologies are already hitting our classrooms in a big way, but using these technologies simply because they are new does not necessarily mean we are being innovative, despite the definition I began with stating so. Once we can picture what effective 21st Century learning is, we can then reverse engineer that projected outcome in steps to reach it. This may involve minor incremental changes with varying uses for technology. The fascinating part about all this is that our projected outcome may in fact change, and undoubtedly it will. It's a process that is re-configured as we go. How do we keep on top of it all though? There are definitely resources out there. The Horizon Report being one if we want to know what emerging technologies could be introduced in th next 5years.

The emerging technologies just give us an idea as to what we have in our toolbox to design the learning. Once again, the learning outcome is the focus.....not the tool that builds it. That is where true innovative teaching practice can happen.

I feel the best way we can lead each other to innovate is to share and learn from one another. Social networking, Voip, IM and other Web 2.0 counterparts now connect us to inspiring educators all over the globe almost instantly. This was obviously not always the case and it shouldn't be taken for granted. When Benjamin Franklin was asked how he accomplished so much in one lifetime he replied, "I stood on the shoulders of giants." simply put, he learned from those who came before him. Benjamin Franklin was in no way globally connected like we are now. Imagine the potential for learning when students realize just how many shoulders they can stand on.

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