The role of innovation and creation

David Hughes, founder of Decision Labs and professor at UNC Chapel Hill, argues that innovation is an essential skill for our global economy. In talking about creativity in schools he says, much of the blame for a lack of creativity, and therefore innovation, can be traced to our traditional educational systems.

What we do now to educate students will not be, cannot be, what we do five years from now.

As much as the innovation of the wheel changed how folks got around, the innovations that are taking place with technology are changing how we learn.  This is no secret.  The question is how will we as educators innovate all pop tab floweraspects of education to truly address the learning needs of students we teach.  This means we must also be proponents and users of 21st Century Skills that include collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and personal reflection and not just a mantra that is rattled off to impress.

Suppressing creativity in light of our own desire for control over learning and classroom atmosphere is what stifles a child’s ability think in non-linear ways because they know that we prefer control and power over legitimate demonstration of learning.  We have a knack for telling kids how we want it done, how it is to look, how big, how small, how many words, what colors to use and not use, and on and on and on.  With all of the restrictions we place on a child’s creative juices, it is no wonder innovation solutions are not created to complex problems – we have caused in box thinking while cutting out the out of box creativity.

Doing school the same way our predecessors did is simple neglect.  It is neglect to not address that we no longer live in an agrarian society.  It is neglect to tell students to keep their devices in the bags and lockers not allowing them to use it as a learning tool.  It is neglect that teachers need to be connected to each other in a variety of ways but many choose not to.  In the very near future, and I believe this is in the next five years, students will come to expect informal collaboration where the technology is secondary to the learning experience with others to achieve goals.

Creative thinkers and doers create solutions we have not now but do need to transform education from its traditional roots to a completely different platform.

photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc

My 21st Century PLN – You Should Have One Too

We are to become educators of the future being community driven.

Since June of this year I have been on a torrent of learning and connecting with other educators and technology creating a massive learning experience for myself that otherwise would not have happened.  Prior to this my only interactions with educators were at the middle school where I work.  I was limited to the thoughts of this group of people.  Over the years I wondered how I could interact with other educators.

With the innovations in technology there will be no excuse for teachers to not find and interact in professional learning communities to find and learn from others.  This will be the new professional development experience for all of us within the next five years.  While this is not a new prediction, it moves from predictive to absolute for without this absolute truth every teacher will fall behind in pedagogy, technology, and trends in education.

I am involved in many professional learning communities that include:  Claco, Google +, Shareist, Connected Educators, Diigo and more.  What I learn from these communities is invaluable!  With so many presenting new ideas I can hardly wait to read what others have to say and learn from them.  In essence, I have created a 21st Century PLN.

community at nightA 21st Century PLN involves numerous people from around the world who connect me to new ideas, resources and other educators.  This skill of connecting is directly tied to communicating, collaborating, reflecting, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.  There is not one educator who cannot afford to have these skills as apart of their daily regimen to think out and create new learning experiences for students.  This spawned creativity generates a rush of new ideas for assessment, learning, and problem solving.  When engaging in this kind of instructional design it is imperative to differentiate between: curriculum and learning goals, pedagogy and teaching strategies, projects and authentic learning experiences.  So much of what happens in the classroom is derived upon inaccurate planning and assessment design.  A well honed PLN allows an educator to find ideas, ask questions, and locate current instructional practices that lead to authentic learning.  A note here…classrooms cannot offer authentic learning experiences because all learning is contrived by a teacher to meet instructional goals.

To create 21st Century PLN I had to, and you do too, get outside of myself and be willing to contact and communicate with strangers.  It is essential that every educator at every level have a variety of professional communities they participate in to diversify their learning and practice. A static approach to learning only leads to an acute understanding of teaching, yet pushing the boundaries of who and what you know leads to a progressive development in professional learning.

I have expanded my PLN to include a variety of online learning communities.