The importance of innovation

August 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

Chilman-®Mark Wood 040First things first, we are very happy that SETsquared has been named number one in Europe by the University Business Incubator Index, and second in the world. We’ve only been part of it for six months, but we share the pride of many others and hope that this award will be the first of many.

On a bigger scale, it’s events like this that remind us that innovation is important and well-appreciated. Taking something from an idea to a widely implemented tool is not a simple feat, but the key is to persevere, and think about all the worth in what you are doing.

Which brings us to today’s topic – technology in the classroom, and why it’s important to innovate and look for new ways of delivering lessons.

Indeed, the classroom is likely one of the most difficult places to bring innovation, because of the barriers are so high: budget constraints, time constraints, pressures to perform, and the understandable chaos that every change in the lesson plan brings, to name a few. We all have, I think, our own stories to tell about how we wanted to try out something new in class, but couldn’t, because of something outside of our control.

But today, let’s talk instead about all the good things that innovation in the classroom brings, and why it’s worth the effort of pursuing.

  1. We learn best when we are presented with problems to solve. Not even the greatest innovators came up with an idea from the ether. Usually, they started out some sort of problem, or with an existing process that could have been improved. James Dyson wanted a solution to the problem of disposable Hoover bags. He continues to innovate to this day. A new element in the lesson plan could seem like a lot of hassle, but it introduces a new element which would pique students’ interest.

    Speaking of which…

  2. New problems means new ways of solving them. Creative thinking isn’t something that should be taught in universities, or in computing classes. Indeed, children are some of the most creative thinkers there are – just show them a Rorschach drawing and watch the fireworks. What we need to do is encourage that creative thinking in the classroom. Why not by presenting them with something new to work with.
  3. Creative Thinking breeds Independence breeds Confidence. Which usually breeds Leadership. Again, independent learning is not just a special skill to learn at University. (Indeed, by some bizarre coincidence, quite a lot of great innovators and leaders were really poor students.) A lot of the time, we shelve great ideas because we lack the confidence to share them with the world. Whether they bank or not is a different question entirely – trying is what’s most important.

It’s amazing, considering the impact, what a payoff a change could have to a person’s life. There is a lot of discussion about the curriculum at schools, with some very good arguments about what should be taught and whether it can be taught; but we would like to also put the question of how the content can be delivered, because sometimes the how makes all the difference between the should and the can.  

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