Shifting to an innovation paradigm in education – How things stand in the future. (Part 2 of 2)

ID-10073330In Part (1) of “Current Education Paradigm and Innovation” We looked together on “The way things currently stand”

“The current situation in schools fosters competition to score higher grades in standardized test and is based on uniformity. Different subjects simulate isolated islands. Creativity which is the stimulus of innovation is not embraced by schools as it should be. With the many reforms taking place in education around the world students are still treated like facts containers which consume rather than explore knowledge to build learning skills to cope with the rapid change in Knowledge sector.”

Here in part (2) I will view “How things stand in the future”, I will unleash my imagination to look at the innovation schools model in the future. For Schools to become innovation learning hubs Curriculum, Instruction and assessment should be radically transformed with Technology to play a key role in this transformation. Teacher role should be promoted to a facilitation role for the diverse learning models that will evolve. Teachers will embrace more leadership skills and roles.

Curriculum in innovation learning hubs

Curriculum in innovation learning hubs is inter-disciplined. With personalized learning taking place – as will be discussed later in this article- flexibility is a key feature for curriculum units. The teachers have the autonomy to adapt the curriculum according to the learning approach for each learner (mobile, open learning, informal schools …). While very loose curriculum standards are present, a dynamic personalized learning plan decides on the: what when and how of learning. This plan is the achievement road map developed by: parents, learner and the facilitator (called teacher in the old days). Age -graded learning is one of many other alternatives. Learners are given the chance to have a competency pre-evaluation before starting a new learning thread that will enable them to skip to the next level. Elective courses are available all along the learning journey. Learners will have the chance to taste various flavors to explore which they are more innovative in.

Learning strategies in innovation learning hubs

Learners in the driving seat: With the blast of knowledge economy and the rich environment it created for innovation learning, learners are leading the journey. Rather than simply absorbing knowledge from the teacher, learners are critical thinkers and problem solvers, they explore and create knowledge in real world problems context.

With Personalized learning (The tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments to meet different needs of individual learners) as the frame work of the paradigm, learning strategies are deeply personalize. The innovation learning hubs, comes in different setups. Learners do have the option to achieve their personalized learning plan in a combination of learning approaches. Learners can chose to have their course face to face, online, blended, or home based. Learning strategies differ accordingly. However, regardless of the learning strategy, learners will outreach community with their projects, data collection, art exhibitions, movies they produce and the list goes on.

Assessment in innovation learning hubs

Diffusion of learning into different forms, will result in various assessment forms. With the learning strategies having students at the center of the process tests are no more the accountable assessment tool. Assessment is no longer a test session, it is basically “achievement project”, where students end up with a product (experiment, research, debate, exhibition, computer program…) that is evaluated in phases and per tasks. Originality, creativity, real world problem integration, reaching community are all important evaluation criteria, self-assessment is the start of a reflective evaluation between the facilitator and the learner. In a project students play different roles simulating career experiences. Technology helps in evaluating the knowledge part which is of minimal weight, while competencies are evaluated in a thorough on going reflective process.

Tech in innovation learning hubs

Technology is shifting the world around us and learning is another aspect that is profoundly transformed by it. In the new paradigm educators have a parallel official roles as facilitators and consultants for e-learning solution providers. Learners have learning sessions where virtual and augmented reality solutions take them beyond imagination and spark their creativity. This is where mobile, blended and open learning is taking place and in Face to face when needed. Learners don’t recall a day when they had a printed book and assessment in some areas is Tech enhanced. Technology made the virtual innovation learning hubs a reality, where many schools don’t exist on ground. Learners can chose to learn anywhere, anytime any pace.

Teachers in innovation learning hubs

They are called facilitators now and they embrace leadership roles. Without maintainable attitude towards continuous improvement, facilitators can no longer support the innovative learners. They need sustainable professional growth to be accountable for the autonomy they have to decide on curriculum delivery as mentioned earlier. With the rapid changes taking place every day facilitators are decision makers in learning hubs that embrace a flattened leadership style. Facilitators are innovators. With radical transformation made to curriculum, assessment, instruction and the overwhelming tech toleration only their innovation capabilities will make them proficient to adapt to the best of learners in a dynamic learning environment.

Challenges, Limitation, boundaries… not realistic, excuse me for having such a wild imagination about innovation in education, but the “True sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” Albert Einstein and one more quote for the astonishing creativity advocate Sir Ken Robinson “Imagination is the source of all human achievement “

Image courtesy Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Shifting to an innovation paradigm in education – the way things currently stand. (Part 1 of 2)

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Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.” Tony Wagner.

These words by Tony Wagner Author of the book ‘Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World’ epitomize knowledge profound impact on our life. Knowledge based economy is growing exponentially. This exponential growth is accelerating the ride to the era beyond knowledge consumption to the one of innovating with knowledge. The digital age is renovating our life, it is the engine of knowledge economy and the driver for globalization. The latter resulted in enormous competitiveness in all fields. For economies to thrive an urgent need exists to having innovative learning institutions that prepare learners for competing and winning in their future careers.

The rise of Innovation age redefined the key skills needed for an individual to be a productive contributor to the society and economy. Individuals in innovation context need to have the aptitude and competence of building new skills and knowledge through the life span. The persistent question that challenge decision makers is: How can we foster an education system that prepare individuals to be creative and innovative labor?

What is innovation?

Innovation is the spark of insight that leads a scientist or inventor to investigate an issue or phenomenon. That insight is usually shaped by an observation of what appears to be true or the creative jolt of a new idea. Innovation is driven by a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. Innovation is based on curiosity, the willingness to take risks, and experimenting to test assumptions. Innovation is based on questioning and challenging the status quo. It is also based on recognizing opportunity and taking advantage of it. While Sir Ken Robinson put it simply as “Putting good ideas into practice”. He believes that everyone has the potential to be creative and waiting for the right environment in which every person is inspired to grow creatively.

Current Education Paradigm and Innovation: The way things currently stand.

Sir Ken Robinson in Educause 2015 stated:  “My concern is that government policies are focused on improving the old [academic] system, where the seeds of growth for a new system are all around us,” Robinson told the audience“. Moreover, Wagner believes that current education model is obsolete and can take no more reform.

The current situation in schools fosters competition to score higher grades in standardized test and is based on uniformity. Different subjects simulate isolated islands. Creativity which is the stimulus of innovation is not embraced by schools as it should be. With the many reforms taking place in education around the world students are still treated like facts containers which consume rather than explore knowledge to build learning skills to cope with the rapid change in Knowledge sector.

Shifting the paradigm to an innovation paradigm?

For Schools to become innovation learning hubs, Curriculum, Instruction and assessment should be radically transformed and Technology should play a key role in this transformation. Teacher role should be promoted to a facilitation role for the diverse learning models that will evolve. They will embrace more leadership skills.

In Part (2) of this post: Shifting to an innovation paradigm in education – How things should be  , I will unleash my imagination to look at the innovation schools model in the future and discuss what I believe are the critical success factors needed for such a model to flourish. 

Innovation definition retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/about/definition.html

Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani @bashaierk

Good to Great Simplified: How can your school make the leap?

CHANGE

“The enemy of great is good” Jim Collins.

What is “Good to Great” for schools?

While underperforming schools are a persistent concern for educators, equal attention should be drawn to good performing schools and how they can make the leap from “Good to Great”. With the blast of knowledge economy in the 21st century, good becomes nothing but the enemy of great for the education paradigm. Performance need to be stretched to shift schools to “great” ones. In such schools, learners are made ready to bright future careers; they are cultivated to be influential citizens with core values instilled in them. Standardized tests exist in these schools but they don’t occupy the top of the list. Extending Education’s impact to the whole lifetime of the learners is the ultimate priority for great schools.

Jim Collins, author of the bestseller book “Good To Great : Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” is convinced that “the good-to-great findings apply broadly—not just to CEOs but also to you and me in whatever work we’re engaged in, including the work of our own lives.” The guiding question to transforming schools from good to great should be: What can we do better than we are doing in the status quo? Big data has no big influence if it is not driven up to the top of the DIKW pyramid, where wisdom is the sum up of the school consistent efforts to move forward. Making good schools great challenges educators to take their school performance to a higher level than expected. They are challenged to simulate life for learners not only to prepare them for one.

Good to Great Simplified

Let’s imagine the scenario in the visual above, where a group of people is about to change their status quo from the bottom to the top of a hill. They have resided down the hill for years now, even though their life is good, they know that there is an orchard that will make their lives even better up the hill. However, they will need to travel through a rough path where they’ll have to leave their comfort zones behind and take the risk. They will also have to carry the payload to the top of the hill, and that will help them settle once they reach their destination. Nevertheless, the group will have doubts about the journey; they will all sit together with a strong desire for the journey. They will start discussing the best way to approach it, and decide that no one should be left behind. They will prepare for the leap that will change their lives immensely.

What is change all about?

Change doesn’t come overnight and it is all about people at the heart of the transformation process

Change doesn’t happen by accident and accordingly there is no moment such as the changing moment. On the contrary, change is a vision that is put into practice through genuine and consistent efforts of the school.

People are the core of the change process. When people have ownership in change, their organizations’ achievements will become their own achievements. They endeavor accomplishments as a method to have self-actualization. “When they begin to see tangible results and can feel the flywheel start to build speed—that’s when they line up, throw their shoulders to the wheel, and push” Jim Collins.

Jim Collins in his book, discusses that not only we need to put the right people in the bus, but the wrong people of the bus and the right people in the right seats. People in the context of schools is all of the education stake holders.

Leadership: The Guiding light for change.

People who carry the wooden board will have their dark moments and that is when they seek guidance from insightful leaders. Leaders who want to lead the change will not set aside and watch people lining up and moving forward with the burden on their shoulder, instead they will be holding it with them and guiding them to the right direction of the path. They are humble enough not only to credit others for their achievement but also to take the blame for failures that happen along the way of change. They put their school’s success above their own success, and they believe their ambition will take them up the hill to the group’s destination. Their passion will drive and accelerate their day to day practices and decisions; in addition, they will ensure they stay at the frontline to guide and lead their groups. When conflicts and complexity arise up the hill, leaders will simplify what needs to be done to the group, a simplicity that encompasses  insights and wisdom. According to Collins: The great CEOs “know what their company can do the best, what their economic engine is, and what their passion is all combined into one crystalline concept.” In what he calls the hedgehog concept.

In a school context these would become “know what your school can do the best, what their educational engine is, and what their passion is all combined together.”

Actions that lead to change

In our scenario, once the group starts marching up to the hill, it is important for them to know exactly what they need to do while moving forward and carrying the load; however, this wouldn’t be enough. They should also know what not to do to keep them on the right track. One good example would be that they cannot lean to any of the side lines taking the risk of destabilizing the board and having the load demolished on the floor. A leader would assure that actions made along the ride will still lead to the top, eliminating any distraction. These actions need to be consistent and in the right direction.

Back to the visual and the scenario introduced above, change process is simply making the journey up to the hill to reach the orchard.

Jim Collins Quotes retrieved from: http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/good-to-great.html

Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani @bashaierk