Breakout session I at the workshop presented the participants with key questions posed by the steering committee to advance discussion beyond the findings of the study. These breakout groups were a mix of participants across different sectors. For guided discussions in breakout sessions II and III, participants reconvened in four stakeholder groups—large business, academia, small business, and K–12 education—to synthesize the information from both the interviews and the earlier breakout group discussions in order to determine takeaways and next steps.1 Each group was asked to distill observations from the second breakout group discussion, to consider what else they would like to learn from the interview analysis (appendix D), and to identify action items as well as roadblocks, points of leverage, and other stakeholders to be involved. These accounts of the group discussions convey the views of individuals, not the consensus of any group or of the project committee.
Are innovators different from entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs? How best to build natural bridges between innovation and entre-/intrapreneurship?
The group members discussed the definitions of innovation (successful new implementation) and entrepreneurship (value creation), as well as science (discovery), engineering (creation), and invention (realization of an idea), and distinguished the attributes
1 The groups also included participants from professional societies and federal agencies as well as people active in the arts and media.
required for entrepreneurs (people/communication skills to create value) and inventors (more internally motivated/problem solvers). They then identified one attribute that is crucial and needed in every innovator: the drive to want to solve a problem. And since innovation is driven by the interplay of self-motivation, environment, and role models/mentors, the nuances of intrinsic motivation need to be determined. One way to help students discern and develop this trait is to ask, “Whose life do you want to change?”
An important corollary is that innovators should be lifelong learners and this should be fostered by the educational environment. It is thus important to teach students how to learn. They also need to have experiences working and interacting with a wide range of disciplines, which must include art and design—STEM should be changed to STEAM, where the “A” stands for arts. The focus must not be only on science-based innovation; innovators are needed in every sector. To that end, the goal should be to create and nurture an inner passion about ideas in general.
How do we transition our learnings associated with enhancing individual innovation capacity to group/team innovation capacity? How can this be further extended into open innovation environments?
Participants observed that every child is born an innovator and this gets deprogrammed before s/he reaches university. Students need opportunities to develop innovation skills before they get to college, and they need to be encouraged to put the same energy into science, technology, engineering, or mathematics as they put into athletics. They need basic skills and tools and need to know how to apply them.
In addition, there was concern that children are being raised to care about how much they are liked, whereas a great innovator has to want an idea to be as great as it can be independent of popularity or risk of failure. Experience with failure is important as it helps build the courage to keep going, but rewards for failure are not aligned. Furthermore, an environment that is tolerant of failure does not have to lack competition. The best entrepreneurs are often intensely competitive. So it is a mistake to assume that stripping measures such as grades and scores out of the educational setting will be a benefit—for some people these measures help motivate them and show progress. There should be a mix, and different types of motivation and achievement should be accounted for when devising measures of student progress.
Students need opportunities to cultivate both self-direction and the courage to pursue an idea no matter what others think of them. They should also learn risk management, an important skill for good decision making and critical problem solving. The best innovators know how to manage risk. Risk management—and the benefits of taking risks—should be taught before college by teaching critical problem solving at an early age.
Unfortunately, students learn to avoid risks that threaten their grades. Educators must work to avoid this effect when students are young. Universities should rely less
on SATs because the emphasis on grades and test scores depresses innovation. They should also change metrics for admission from high school to include some creativity.
Looking beyond the classroom, some major companies (such as GE) are looking to hire people who have more diverse experience. For young people who perceive more social value placed on entertainment, a career in science or academia may not be appealing. For these reasons high school students need to be exposed to the real world through educational opportunities outside the school day/school year, such as work in a laboratory for 4 weeks during the summer with a 2-week break, or extracurricular R&D groups for science competitions. Outside internships can also provide opportunities to solve real problems and help students learn “soft skills.”
In short, a culture change among academics is needed to facilitate this new type of educational approach and universities need to facilitate the process however possible.
In the academic and federal research-funding world, merit review is the Holy Grail. But merit reviews and taxpayer dollars often fund conservative ideas. How can graduate students be trained to be innovative in this environment?
“Merit” review is really peer review, according to some of the participants; politics are involved. Merit review should take into account how teachers are evaluated: they are held accountable to the curriculum, but this can mean that in the classroom they don’t have the freedom to teach creatively. And for students who want to start new companies, the current system requires publishing. Academics should recognize the value of patents and products in addition to the value of publications, and new criteria (at NSF) should change from the five most significant publications to recognize the five most significant products.
Funding should be used to promote an innovative environment. Conservative ideas are those with little risk, which are close to delivery. Professors/researchers can combine multiple parallel projects that vary in risk/reward—some “safe,” some more innovative. Faculty should similarly be encouraged to go after diverse projects, some with specific goals and some with broader objectives. An important corollary addresses the inherently different concerns of professors and students: Professors have to be mindful of tenure track, but they should get out of the students’ way! Faculty members can worry about their own careers, but give students freedom.
Employers look for people who have worked on teams, but universities are not promoting collaboration; the university system encourages individual success so the individual can get sole credit. Universities need to put together project teams that include business, finance, product development, and engineering. They also need to link innovation and entrepreneurship if business-worthy ideas are to be generated and new jobs created.
What criteria do we use to seek out the best paradigm(s) for education for innovation? What new elements do we need to consider in the “educate” piece?
Group members added their own questions: Did you foster innovation? How do you know? How do you define success—as one innovation or many? If the latter, then how many? Have you encouraged people who have not followed an innovative path to follow that path? Do you compare school/program graduates with a baseline cohort?
Criteria need to be measurable. Results or outputs should be a criterion. Tangible short- and long-term measures of success should be considered, as well as longitudinal measurements. Another idea was to ask “Are all your students having the experiences listed under ‘experiences’ in the survey findings?”
A participant from the large business sector explained that newer measures of success in innovation are yielded by questions such as, “Did you get to a decision point in your project team?” “Did you collectively achieve what you set out to do?” “How did you bring everybody together for innovation?” In other words, there is emphasis on the group, not the individual innovator.
One key characteristic is that innovators must learn to improvise, like musicians. Improvisation is prized in environments where innovation occurs. Similarly, it can be useful to learn from the pedagogies of the arts and humanities. For example, use the environment and culture of the art studio, where space is often shared with neighbors and works of art are commented on by colleagues who stop by or share the studio space. Cross-fertilize artists working next to biologists doing lab work; and provide opportunities for engineers to learn about the humanities and think about how this knowledge influences design. Bring creativity into places that do not normally have time to create or play or improvise, such as traditional, “classical” engineering undergraduate programs in which the courses are tightly proscribed in the first two years. These are ways to value divergent and convergent thinking.
Start by identifying what kids really care about. For example, invite students to identify a group of people they would like to help, as teachers do at Olin College. Then take them out to learn more about that group of people and construct a sociological profile of them. This process taps students’ intrinsic motivation to help people and provides an opportunity to combine education and practice.
Discussions of takeaways and next steps were conducted in sector-specific groups as follows.
Participants in this subgroup cited the importance to innovators of science and engineering education: fundamental knowledge of how the natural world works is essential to invention and innovation, as is critical thinking. These abilities and areas of knowledge should be prioritized equally with the teaching of fundamental skills. Students should also learn how to create from scratch and be exposed to the challenge of implementation, not merely the solution of hypothetical problems. Faced with real problems to solve, students should be guided to draw on their knowledge to work on them; invention will follow from their seeing the solution.
- This group envisioned overlapping skill sets in a Venn diagram, where no skill is more important than another: A team needs to have a full set of skills, including those of both innovation and entrepreneurship, and innovation must be created in every sector, not just science-based areas.
- While experience working in teams is important, overdependence on team members should be avoided—individual skills are also important.
- Innovators have appropriate skepticism, they ask questions that go against the grain, they ask “what if.” Innovation is thus about challenging the prevailing world view and being willing to drive toward change, and students’ effectiveness in challenging the status quo will depend on their ability to articulate the value of their projects. Therefore, an environment that caters to innovation should teach students to communicate well. Schools are typically not good at this.
NEXT STEPS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
- Further research: Conduct further interviews with people who hire and work with the innovators that were interviewed; these perspectives might be more objective (self-reporting can be misleading) and offer useful insight on what makes innovators so innovative.
- Further research: Some natural attributes cannot be taught so it may be more useful to think about how to avoid destroying them. Research to identify what prevents innovation would be helpful.
- Further research: Are government policy and programs key drivers of innovation since they are behind the education funding?
- Further research: How do the intellectual property policies of universities vary? And what is their impact on affiliated innovators?
- Create a standardized protocol for engagement and transfer of intellectual property between industry and universities. Efficient mechanisms are needed to bridge the gap that respects the needs of both.
Suggestion: Start by creating a “best practices” agreement among 10 universities and 10 businesses—others may be more willing to follow once such an
agreement has been developed and implemented—then modify as needed in particular cases. Universities in other countries seem to be easier to work with because the agreements are less complicated.
- Close the gap between what universities are teaching and what businesses need. Businesses must better define the talent needed in order to drive change in the education system. Create an environment of helping universities, not telling them what to do.
Suggestion: Since education is slow to change—curriculum cannot be easily adjusted—and the talent needed in different businesses is diverse, it might be more effective to change the education system through “pull, not push,” for example by creating challenges and having instructors teach to the challenge.
Suggestion: Businesses could partner with universities to send a representative to the campus to coteach, consult, or mentor students. This approach might also help keep talent local by providing students with a direct link to employment in the community.
Suggestion: Undergraduate curriculum reform may be appropriate to reflect the need for both basic skill knowledge and critical thinking/problem-solving skills. “Real world” components should be added to undergraduate curricula to help students understand the context for learning the skills.
Suggestion: Challenge promotes innovation. Business-sponsored competitions on campuses create incentives for many more students to engage than might be the case in a classroom setting.
- Recent culture has taught students that failure is not acceptable/expected. An “everyone wins” approach leads students to think success is quick and easy. Create the right messages so that students have realistic views about innovation:
- — Innovation is difficult.
- — Innovation requires patience.
- — Failure is a natural part of the journey toward success.
- — Success has many definitions.
Suggestion: Schools could create a more realistic environment in which students can experience small failures and learn how to be resilient through experience and debriefing. This isn’t about encouraging failure but supporting the idea that it is acceptable to fail and recover. Success in innovation is more about give and take, limitations and challenge and less about straight risk and failure or success. “Do, Fail, Learn.”
- Colleges and employers should embrace internships or co-ops. Innovation improves with learning cycles. Graduation/degree requirements should rely more on competency and less on attendance. Rethink the idea of a “reimbursable event” in education. Redefine what students are paying for.
Suggestion: This might include 6-month to 1-year internships in a program in which students would stop taking classes, go to work, and then return to classes.
- Leverage technology to foster widespread access to learning and collaborating. Emphasize the use of electronic resources (such as online gaming) so students have the opportunity to learn both the fundamentals and how to be part of a successful team. This broadens their ability to use a variety of models to be part of an innovative, diverse culture.
- Rethink/reframe the definition of innovation in the eyes of the public and stakeholders to include all systems, not just the end product. Some companies don’t need “innovators” right out of college but want to foster/support those tendencies for when those employees become more experienced.
Suggestion: Companies can accomplish the above by fostering idea generation throughout company systems and across jobs. Caution: Not all innovation is equal; schools and companies should steer innovation toward positive impacts (without making value judgments).
The members of this group focused on the relationship between university-level education and industry to determine whether the skills gained from higher education and those desired by employers are in alignment. To meet industry expectations, the group made suggestions to instigate a culture shift. Rather than starting over from scratch, the group recommended integrating experiences that foster innovation in existing coursework, letting larger universities lead such efforts and serve as models for smaller institutions.
The group characterized four types of innovators: a “Steve Jobs type,” those who are intensely dedicated with strong communication abilities, those with salesmanship abilities, and those who thrive in a hierarchical and militaristic lead/follow paradigm. Military-type experience is useful leadership training—it teaches how to lead as well as follow for the best functioning team. One can’t prepare for leadership ranks without knowing how to follow.
- Companies do not hire teams—they hire individuals, who must be able to collaborate and succeed in a team environment.
- You can’t be an innovator unless you know enough about people and what they need to create a solution that changes their lives.
- It may be useful to flip the curriculum by beginning with orientation to the field (such as the mining industry) and providing basic knowledge about it, then turning to science education.
- Ask students to frame problems, not just solve them, as part of their homework.
- Incorporate entrepreneurship in the curriculum.
Examples: (1) Ask students to set up a startup company. (2) Set up an “entrepreneurs’ garage,” a space for interested students to network with the outside, to hold informal “fireside chats,” to hear war and success stories. Involvement is not graded. The experience has proved very useful and resulted in students forming their own teams. (3) University of Maryland students built a house on the Mall in Washington, involving work with outside contractors and real experience; but, although industry loved it and extended many job offers, the university decided not to pursue the experience again because no academic credit was associated with it; future efforts were the responsibility of volunteers. (4) Olin College of Engineering expects each student to have a “Passionate Pursuit” and records it on transcripts.
- It would be ideal to integrate entrepreneurship throughout the university, but one problem is that few faculty members are innovative themselves or have startup experience and there are too few mentors. One option is to create a summer entrepreneurship program, thus cycling new people onto the faculty with this experience.
- Share best practices from successful programs, recognizing that models may not translate to all and that it takes time to change the culture of an institution; be prepared for a transitional phase.
- There are different kinds of innovators, and the relevance of certain skills over others depends on the situation at hand. Therefore, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to innovation. A group of innovators with different skills can come together to form a good innovative team.
- There is concern about the skills being taught to students and their relevance to contemporary work settings. Students need knowledge and skills that are both broad and specific, but finding the balance is difficult.
- The more constraining the credentials for entering college are, the more difficult it might be to make changes in a career or academic path. Such constraints are the result of historic practices in academia, not employers’ hopes.
- Traditional educational approaches can be supplemented with real-world experiences integrated in the curriculum. Employers can be brought to the classroom to discuss what is typically sought in new employees, or students can go to employers through internships and develop the soft skills needed for success.
NEXT STEPS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
- Further research: Incentives need to be examined—what is rewarded?
- Further research: Does innovation have a positive impact on diversity?
- Further research: What are the specific skills of innovation and entrepreneurship?
- Work toward a culture shift in academia, because it seems that educating to innovate is at odds with the way many universities operate currently. Academia should reevaluate the reasons for teaching traditional and heavily structured knowledge, which may conflict with the expectations of today’s employers.
- Convince faculty of the usefulness of innovative approaches and educating to innovate. Teach with other faculty good at teaching process, or with someone from industry.
- Assessment metrics now used include number of licenses, revenues, royalties; these are the wrong ones for students. In addition, most startups fail, so the success of a startup is not the right metric. Universities and departments should decide on metrics, not the accreditation commission, which pushes universities to measure student competency, but what is the competency in question? Redefine assessment metrics so that they reflect changes in culture and student competency.2
- Weave innovation-related knowledge and experiences (e.g., risk taking and management, failure, real-world problems, mentors) into existing courses, because it is difficult to start new courses and programs from scratch, and because innovation should be pervasive in the academic environment.
- Require students (especially in engineering) to be exposed to innovation and entrepreneurship (e.g., learn how to start/run a business) in order to graduate.
Options: (1) assign teams of students 30 days to design a city or solve some problem requiring innovation; (2) ask students to identify a group of people whose lives they want to change, as in a business plan competition, and to articulate learning outcomes. Also teach engineers to talk to customers.
- Encourage freshmen to find what inspires them and expose them to a multidisciplinary team, role models, and thinking “outside the box.”
- Students get excited about taking products to market but also want to solve social problems (e.g., poverty, hunger, energy, climate change). Such problems provide a purpose and also teach students about working in teams and across disciplines, since most cannot be solved by a single individual with expertise in a single area. Identify problems with global impact and empower students to solve one by providing the needed tools/skills.
- Encourage larger universities to implement programs and courses that educate to innovate and serve as a model for other institutions.
- Opportunities for leverage: (1) Government agencies can use innovation as leverage for funding. (2) Reward those who are really interested—celebrate and provide discretionary funding to them. (3) Offer faculty credit for extracurricular work and/or incentives to include innovation in their teaching. (4) Provide/publicize prizes, competitions, and challenges for students. (5) If a university president focuses on innovation, it will move the institution.
- Suggestions for the National Academy of Engineering: (1) Define competency and the criteria for designating a person “credentialed in innovation” (as distinct from entrepreneurship). (2) Recommend metrics and identify best practices for universi-
2 The group cited the experience at a university where students were presented with the following challenge: “These are the five biggest questions modern chemistry can’t solve now. What do you need to know to solve them?” Asking this question resulted in highly innovative success among students, but the approach was not adopted by the university because the success could not be measured as a conventional skill set.
ties. (3) Make a statement encouraging action. (4) Ask President Mote to deliver his speech at each engineering school.
The discussions of the small business group reflected their objectives as entrepreneurs working in a changing, fast-paced, competitive environment. Although their conception of innovation is heavily dependent on market success, they note that an entrepreneur is only one type of innovator.
According to this group, many of the obstacles to fostering innovation can be traced to the academic world. For example, one of the biggest problems is the publication system. No venture capitalist asks for a list of publications, yet professors drive students to publish, and it is difficult to publish something that does not conform. While publishing is important for academic success and professors should encourage their students to publish, they should also encourage them to author or coauthor patents, which are other useful indicators of innovative output.
The structure in place for evaluating progress and merit in the academic world is also at odds with small business values. For example, the peer review system that is a gold standard of academic quality is not relevant in a company, where a program manager makes the decisions about projects. In academia professors often shy away from risk because “failure” may hurt their chances of attaining tenure; this challenge could be solved by using different evaluative measures. The group also called for ways to reward professors whose students drop out to do startups or go on to achieve worthy accomplishments in nonacademic endeavors. They should be encouraged to conduct diverse projects, some with specific goals and some with broader goals.
The academic system’s promotion of collaboration (or lack thereof) is also problematic. Universities stress individual success, at both the faculty and graduate level; some companies are like this, but values across companies vary. The ability to work in a team can help individuals learn how to communicate their ideas and get buy-in. Students with these abilities will better present themselves and their work at conferences and will work more effectively on project teams, whether in academia or in industry. Success in either setting can also be fostered by linking innovation and entrepreneurship, by bringing business into academia—for example, through opportunities for academics to present their ideas and dissertations to businesspeople, and in forums where businesspeople and academics pitch ideas and note the differences between the presentations.
Last, academic funds need to be allocated so that students have full access to resources—for example, if scanning is free, more students will use scanners and thus be able to share their ideas with others.
- The current educational paradigm falls short in creating an environment for innovation. What happens before kids get to college? Problem-solving skills should be developed at the primary school level.
- Small businesses are innovating regularly and educators may be able to learn from them, so integrating the two spheres may be beneficial.
- In terms of collaborative efforts, schools are good at teaching how to be in a team, but not how to be in a winning team. A sense of urgency must be instilled in students, appropriate motivation must be fostered, proper incentives to innovate must be in place, and the team must be aligned around the goal.
- Informal interactions can be beneficial, as a formal environment may encourage “too much politeness.”
- There is concern about the scalability of implementing ideas for educating to innovate. How can a certain practice or environment be applied to tens of thousands of students at a typical university?
- Innovative environments are significantly more important than producing individual innovators; an innovative environment will train individuals to improve whatever type of organization they are a part of (e.g., by asking “Can this task or process be done better?”) independent of their role in an innovative team. This is important, because not everyone has the same caliber/skill in innovating, but everyone can contribute to innovative efforts.
- It’s important to get the incentives right: if the motivation (from university, business, government) is not toward but away from innovation, innovation won’t happen.
NEXT STEPS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
- Further research: Develop case studies of both success and failure among innovators. How do they define an outcome? How do they deal with the process of failure/recovery? How can resiliency be fostered after failure?
- Further research: How do innovators collaborate? What are the attributes of a winning team? How is it structured?
- Further research: Determine whether current organizational structures at universities are conducive to fostering innovation and its education.
- Further research: Assess the number of spinouts, how long it takes to complete licensing agreements between business and university, and who makes the most money from royalties. (It is more important for the country to get use of the products than for the university to get royalties.)
- Further research: Develop metrics to measure the success of incorporating innovation into curricula.
- Further research: Determine the role of open-source technology, such as online classes and other Internet tools, in educating to innovate.
- Improve communication among all stakeholders.
- Encourage universities and small businesses to collaborate; for example, small businesses can contribute with ideas for master’s and doctoral degree students. Such collaboration would benefit both the business and the students, in part by helping to bridge theoretical and real-world knowledge, and it would benefit the university by contributing to the success of its students in getting jobs and contributing
to society. University departments should have requirements to ensure that each business project is suitable and fits into the academic program.
- Use challenges and competitions to engage students, by, for example, giving them a real-world problem to solve.
- Remove the headaches (e.g., health insurance) that come with hiring students and make it easier to hire graduates.
- University technology transfer rewards are an impediment; instead of trying to license patents, let a small business take the patent without having to pay a licensing fee, and let the university get part of the royalties or an equity position.
- Create a compelling narrative why universities should develop an environment that fosters innovation.
- Suggestion for the National Academy of Engineering: Study relations between universities and small business to identify best practices, fair compensation, models of IP agreements, and so forth.
The breakout group also offered suggestions for increasing the impact of this monograph and project:
- Write a good article in a journal with high visibility.
- Promote the findings with policymakers and at various levels (e.g., state, community).
- Demonstrate that the implications of the study are practical and implementable by offering a how-to guide with case studies of success.
The members of this group focused on the shortcomings of the current K–12 education system and advocated for a complete restructuring of the educational system to meet the goal of fostering innovation. They placed a strong emphasis on creating an environment capable of facilitating the development of skills necessary to innovate. They wanted detailed accounts of innovator experiences throughout school so that they could understand how to incorporate such experiences into teaching methods.
The discussion focused on determining the criteria that should be used to find new paradigms for innovation and on understanding what new elements need to be considered in education for innovation.
To define new paradigms that foster innovation, methods of measurement (including longitudinal measurements) need to be established. Was innovation fostered? If so, how is this known? Both the results and the process must be evaluated, so that there is recognition not only for the product of the innovation but also for following an innovative path. Tangible short- and long-term measures of success should be considered, and should take account of both group and individual performance. For example, did the group collectively achieve what it set out to do? Was a decision point reached within a project team? It may also be helpful to compare school/program graduates with a baseline cohort.
Among the criteria to consider for an education paradigm are the “human side of innovation” and the importance of the humanities in design, as distinct from traditional engineering undergraduate programs in which the courses are tightly proscribed in the first two years. Learning from the arts can foster creativity and improvisation and help students learn to value divergent and convergent thinking. Innovators should also be able to understand and articulate the value added of innovation. Courses in ethics and humanities could enable students to understand and articulate the value of their innovative ideas in a larger, societal context. The development of these skills can be facilitated at a younger age by helping students recognize what they really care about; for example, as at Olin College, young students could be asked to identify a group of people they would like to help and learn more about the group to understand how best to connect their innovative efforts and impacts. It was broadly agreed that the paradigms should ensure tight integration between education and practice, and rich cross-fertilization among different fields.
In terms of elements to be considered for innovation education, the group stressed learning by doing and getting students to be comfortable with the idea of not finding immediate answers. Students must be given the freedom to generate creative ideas even if there is no short-term return or fruition. Educators, in turn, need to understand how to give students more time to innovate, balancing between providing freedom and using deadlines.
What are the most effective ways to encourage people to pursue new, unfamiliar areas? It is likely that their willingness to expand their areas of exploration will correspond to areas they are really passionate about.
Instilling a lifelong drive to learn is crucial, and complements a curriculum that fosters innovation. To that end, it is appropriate to clarify the end goals of education in general and of a given curriculum (for example, is the current purpose of educating to innovate to create jobs?).
- Provide more opportunities for learning by doing and balance the teaching of foundations with freedom (e.g., more time to innovate) and deadlines. Encourage creative ideas even if there is no short-term return or fruition of the idea. Make people comfortable with not finding immediate answers.
- There is frustration from higher education about student preparation, but the system tends to strip away what it takes to be an innovator as it processes students. And increasing standards-based expectations of the system seem to make it difficult to provide enough of the experiences that are key to becoming an innovator.
- There is a need for very specific examples of experiences and thought processes that led individuals to become innovators.
NEXT STEPS AND FURTHER RESEARCH
- Further research: More concrete examples and stories to enhance understanding of innovators’ formative beginnings and experiences. One of these examples should be a narrative of an innovator’s thought process.
- Further research: Who were innovators’ formal and informal role models? How did they find them? When were they most significant? What was the nature of the interaction?
- Further research: What did the innovators value about their education and why? What frustrated them? What changes would they like to see and why? Ask them to specifically address these questions for their education in the United States, since some interviewees surely went to school abroad for at least some period of time.
The facilitator asked, “What needs to happen in K–12 in order to educate to innovate?”
- Combine innovation with the teaching of basic science through projects or open-ended labs.
- Create interdisciplinary teams to complement each other, e.g., integrating the arts with STEM subjects.
- Create strategic partnerships—for example, between small business development centers, Chambers of Commerce, universities, businesses, and economic development organizations—to develop pipelines for students to work on ideas.
- Create a pedagogy, class, framework, or method where students learn from their mistakes without being penalized. Make failure a learning experience.
- Improve preservice education for teachers.
- Create job-embedded professional development to support stronger cultures of professional growth.
- Reimagine the curriculum based on the goals we want to get out of it.
- Question or challenge the notion that education needs to be standardized.
- Introduce students to the creative process. Create spaces for tinkering and connections among people with different talents so there is cross-fertilization among tinkering projects. Google’s 20 percent time was cited as an example, as well as Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, 2013).
- Get the accreditation function of state governments to agree that innovation needs to be a goal.
- Develop and distribute grade-level-specific materials called “The Educate to Innovate Curriculum,” tied to science standards, with a student activity prong and a teacher professional development prong. Teachers can earn credit for taking the course. Start the curriculum in grade 2, with video accessible via You Tube. All materials should be available on the web and without cost.
- Create a series of web-based case studies, including failures, effective stories, teachers’ voices, and mini-ethnologies that show what is working in specific communities.
- Invite the US Secretary of Education to workshops like this.
- Use existing models like Science Fairs and History Day, where students get feedback on their work. Introduce measures of evaluation of students and schools other than tests. In other words, use more formative evaluation of student work.
- Make assessment of student achievement a composite of methods, for example, tests and project-based efforts with community connections.
- Use art teachers as creativity coaches. Use and capitalize on what the arts teach, such as problem-based learning, valuing the process, using failure, nurturing creativity.
- Create bully protection squads to protect kids from being chastised for “being weird.” Accept and celebrate difference.
- Stop evaluating teachers based on student test scores and stop limiting learning by “teaching to the test.”
- Reclaim the role of the teacher so that s/he is an architect. Teachers should design learning to meet the needs of their students. Such designs for learning are transferable, although not necessarily generalizable, so make these designs available to other teachers to learn from.
- Develop or refine assessment tools to see if they are working. For example, ask students how their specific learning experiences worked.
- Adapt the curriculum to inspire or tap students’ intrinsic motivation.
- Give students and teachers more time to learn (e.g., by having teachers teach fewer students).
- Involve students in speaking, writing, and designing what works for them.
- Work toward a cultural and organizational shift to reimagine a curriculum based on desired end goals.
- Consider how a scripted curriculum and federal accountability measures can be addressed to encourage education for innovation.