We hear a lot of folks talking about educational innovation today as if it were an educational philosophy or platform unto itself, like Montessori education, Jesuit learning, or single gender teaching. It is not. Innovation is not an educational platform, it is a mindset, and it has been around in every industry from the beginning of time. This is not a new idea.
According to our good friends Wikipedia (an innovative entry itself), here is the definition of innovation:
"Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. "
So, to learn what innovation means to the future of education, let's review what innovation has meant to other industries.
- Innovation breeds choice. Most good innovations provide customers with more choice and an increasing stratification of offerings.
- Innovation decreases price. Most good innovations find a way to live out Blue Ocean Strategy, giving consumers more choice with less cost.
- Innovation enhances the experience. Most great innovations make the product experience better for the end user, the customer.
- Innovation produces integration. At the end of the day, most great innovations end up living within an ecosystem of products, with mixed price choices and mixed delivery options. Innovation rarely remains a stand alone product category.
The future of education is not about innovation that eliminates everything we know to be true about our industry: the four year college degree, clear educational outcomes, real world and work training, or global preparation for the future. I think we need to start looking at innovation at the way it will play into our ecosystem by driving more customer choice, better price, and stronger integration into our product lines. Unless we want to argue with history, I think we are safe to say that placing innovation in context might be useful to our campus conversations.