George Couros said it best:
“Innovation is not about the “Stuff”, but about a way of thinking.”
Education is caught up in technological gadgets that will somehow increase academic rigor and student achievement. There is little to no evidence that technology alone will increase student success. Many tech companies involved in education will rave about their products ability and promises that their product will change your classrooms and raise student achievement levels for all.
What is missing from education in the technological age is the human element. Teachers are not replaceable and students still need attention from the adults in the room. A technology tool in the classroom is just that- a tool. The tool is not the end goal. The tool is the guide which helps students to meet the end goals set by the teacher. Vawn Himmelsbach said it best, “Technology is not meant to replace the teacher. Rather, the idea is to create a flexible learning environment that breeds innovation. It shifts the classroom experience from ‘sage-on-a-stage’ approach to a more collaborative learning environment” (Himmelsbach, 2011).
The best technology available will not support and improve academic performance unless technology is utilized in a way that creates a drive for change, makes a difference, raises awareness, changes minds, and starts conversations. The idea is that innovation is more about the thinking involved and less about the tool that is used. This is not to say that technology does not have it’s place, because it definitely does in the 21st century classrooms, however as Couros, 2015 said, “Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.”
The balance in innovation in education comes when we change the perception of what education is and is not. Why does education exist? Education exists to improve the lives of the students we teach. Education does not exist to pass a particular test. Dr. Joe Martin says, “No teacher has ever had a former student return to say a standardized test changed his or her life” (J.Martin, 2007, as cited in Couros, 2015). Today’s organizations are looking for skilled critical thinkers, people that can create and solve problems-to create something new out of something old. When we look at why we exist as an education system, create new spaces to reflect current and future outcomes, and lead students to a growth mindset equipped with skills to create and problem solve, we then will have a balanced approach to innovation in education.
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