Companies valuing innovation are on the rise, therefore, it is our responsibility as educators to prepare our students for the future they will face. I recently read an article published in the Harvard Business Review titled, You Need an Innovation Strategy, and it made me wonder how many schools have their own innovation strategy, if any at all.
Any school developing an innovation strategy should specify how innovation fits into their vision and should map out the resources for achieving that vision. Oftentimes, in education, innovation is associated with digital learning and high tech resources. While these things can lead to innovation, there are other ways in which we can equip our students with the strategies, tools and resources to be able to unleash their creativity.
Recently, I have become fascinated with how many big corporations are creating rooms whose purposes are specifically to inspire innovation. The space that has inspired me the most has been the Deloitte Greenhouse. The Deloitte Greenhouse is an immersive, collaborative space designed to help cultivate creativity and discover the next generation of ideas built on principles of design thinking and innovation theory.
As we know, the maker culture embodies opportunities for creativity in innovation, and I am lucky enough to have a very successful makerspace in my library at New Milford High School. To compliment our makerspace, I felt our school needed a space for students to be able to think, talk, collaborate over ideas, with the option and opportunity to prototype some of those in our makerspace….an intellectual makerspace, of sorts.
Our room, named by a graduate of our school, will be called 'The Think Tank'. It will be a low tech tech space designed to inspire innovation and creativity, perhaps even in the high tech sense. This room will consist of flexible co-working spaces and collaborative tools and will create the conditions for innovation.
We know that learning spaces build culture and our new learning space will send the message that we embrace student-driven breakthroughs and new ideas.
This learning environment will include, but not be limited to:
• Write on surfaces to explore and express ideas and brainstorms- we will have chalkboard walls and whiteboard walls and tables, as well as clear, glass, mobile dry-erase boards.
• Mobile, active seating to inspire collaboration and active thinking- We will have Buoy seating by Steelcase.
• Smart lights which will adjust to moods or the tasks one is trying to accomplish. We will outfit the room with HUE lighting, which, in conjunction with IFTTT, allows you to take control of your lighting through recipes powered by your smartphone. Recipes include lighting to inspire creativity or to help to create an energized environment.
In our new space, intellectual creativity and innovation will be encouraged and inspired, and hopefully will help to make thinking innovatively pervasive throughout our school.
Any innovation strategy needs strategies to support it. One way to support your vision is to invest in innovation. This is something we don't often hear about in schools, but is a necessary commitment that needs to be made in order for innovation to flourish. In a recent BAM Radio Network podcast, Elementary Principal, Dr. Brad Gustufson, spoke about how he invests in innovation in his school.
So with the new school year upon many us already, what will you do to help foster innovative ideas in your school community? How will you shape your ideas to leverage your school's environment to inspire creativity and innovation? What is your innovation strategy?