Gabrielle Alicino

“Innovation Requires a Little Crazy”

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MIT has a reputation as one of the most innovative higher education institutions; it is continually pushing to reinventing itself. Here are the key ingredients for innovation in higher education according to MIT – a few are “a willingness to take risks, to try something ‘crazy,’ to learn from failure and keep going” What’s the last risk you took to learn?

“Data Challenge Invites Hackers to Help Enhance Education Policies”

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If you’re not directly involved in schools or innovation, you can still help shape education innovation. 60 civic hackers, developers, and students are working on the Mass EduData Challenge in Boston. Parham, Government Innovation Officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, shared school data with those he believes are most suited to analyze it — hackers. “We can leverage the insights and skill sets of the folks in our extended community who are, first of all, very passionate about civic innovation and, second of all, they have specific skill sets, whether it be in application development, user experience design, data analysis, or visualization,” Parham said.

“Educational Technology Isn’t Leveling the Playing Field”

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Researchers are beginning to document a digital Matthew Effect (the tendency for early advantages to multiply over time) in regards to learning with technology and the achievement gap. Access to technology alone does not level the playing field – it’s guidance and scaffolding by adults or mentors that really lead to meaningful educational gains with technology. Annie Murphy Paul thinks we need a focus on people and training to provide support above and beyond access for low-income children. What steps should we take to ensure technology is not widening the opportunity gap for our students?

“Why Public Schools Struggle to Innovate”

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Michael B. Horn writes about how public schools have some unique challenges to solve the innovator’s dilemma – how you prioritize innovation that will disrupt the current student experience to drive improvement. Political leadership, varied stakeholders, and limitations on change have an impact as well as the fear of failure in one of our most important social institutions. What is the cost if we don’t innovate and learn from our failures?

“Moving Towards Next Gen Learning”

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Blended learning, personalized learning, project-based learning, student-centered learning – there are so many terms but what is the difference and overlap between them? Andy Calkins shares a quadrant graphic model to make sense of current reforms in the education-innovation space around four main degrees: time, place, path, and pace. Calkins gives examples of all four types of innovating; the most disruptive innovations push all four dimensions. Where does your work fall on the chart?

“Teachers Not (Necessarily) Included”

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Teachers must be involved in education innovation products to bring about maximum success. Catalano explains that most successful startups in the education field have at least some teacher involvement.The deep understanding of the education system paired with idealism and the network to try ideas and get feedback on them makes teachers a key ingredient in a successful venture. Even when startups want to make waves with big changes, teacher input and feedback is key in making it happen. Teachers are the vital players in implementing purposeful and effective innovations.

“Education Innovation”

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In Pakistan, families are increasingly recognizing the value of education in reaching success. However, Dr. Najam explains that the country has a major supply problem of providing quality schools for those students. Dr. Najam recognizes that teacher-led innovation is of critical importance: “The key realization has to be that teachers are the key to educational quality enhancement. If we need to get to students we will need to first get to teachers.”

“Design Thinking for Social Innovation”

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What increased impact might you be missing by using traditional problem-solving techniques instead of design thinking? This informative article by Brown & Wyatt, two of IDEO’s top dogs, outlines where the advantages of design thinking could have helped projects wildly succeed in India and Africa rather than being merely effective.They believe design thinking can be applied in almost every field: “Design thinking crosses the traditional boundaries between public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. By working closely with the clients and consumers, design thinking allows high-impact solutions to bubble up from below rather than being imposed from the top.” They outline and illustrate three broad stages of the design thinking process: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. How could you use design thinking to take it to the next level?

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