Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why Does Innovation Matter? Panel Discussion at EduCon 2.3

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EduCon 2.32 Friday Night Panel

Planners of EduCon 2.3 have assembled yet again another stellar panel for the Friday Night Panel discussion, Why Does Innovation Matter? Held at the Franklin Institute on January 28, 2011 from 6-8 PM ET, this year's panel includes:

You can follow EduCon 2.3 live at www.educon23.org/live.

SLA Student Chair, Lehmann, Dr. Wint
Arriving early at the Opening Night Panel Discussion gave me the distinct pleasure of meeting and greeting Christian Long, Dennis Wint, and Chris Lehman—and a front row seat. Everyone at EduCon shares common goals: to ask and to understand. EduCon’s partnership with The Franklin Institute brings the same core values in practice. Conference values are core values by which SLA lives, learns, works, and collaborates.

Guiding Principles of EduCon

  1. Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.
  2. Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen.
  3. Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.
  4. Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate.
  5. Learning can — and must — be networked.

Dr. Dennis Wint is the Director of the Franklin Institute and opened the Third Annual EduCon. The philosophical hands-on scientific inquiry of the FI has transferred to SLA in building the foundation of Lehman’s SLA. Interesting programs coming soon that bring science into the real world and quite literally the streets of Philadelphia.  Dr. Frederick Berteley, FI and panel discussion moderator, reminded us that students run this conference. Tonight’s topic: Why Does Innovation Matter?

The panel discussion began with looking at quotations about innovation.

Words to live and learn by...
Steve Jobs: "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
Dr. Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science ~ Innovation = collaboration.
Chris Lehmann: "Innovation is positive social change."
Frederic Bertley: "Innovation = Life."
President Obama: “Innovation is how we make our living.”
Benjamin Franklin: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

The panelists were asked to define innovation.
Matt Berg: Innovation = independence.
Innovators realize that is a part of why we are here. I have the context of Africa and some of the problems as well as some of the knowledge. Influence is part of the process, but innovation is something we have to create. Openness. Sharing, reuse, maximizing resources, eliminating dependency, allowing locality. Real innovation when people have the ability to solve their own problems. No one is more innovative but some have more independence to be innovative.

Aaron Gross: Innovation is an ethical act. We think of it as change that matters, adds to the common good and advancement. Animal good and innovation exist but what we don’t have enough is improved innovation. What does it mean to farm, to feed a nation?

Neeru Paharia: Innovation is a tough question, but it is a feeling of hopefulness and optomism that inspires you to be creative. Resource-restrained often promotes innovation, to find the better way to touch the core of the human spirit. Wright Brothers, Chris Lehmann, people who risk failing to take their communities to the next level.

Trung Le: A handful of a question, but innovation is a sense of renewal. As designers, reinventing process to get to a newer sense of renewal. In a broader sense of design, having an outcome you design toward. In education, you design toward what learning needs. Preparing a whole generation to problem solve. Innovation and design as a relationship is human capacity to design a better world to live in.

Stanford Thompson: BF into immovable, movable, and those who move. Needed to spend 4-5 hours a day to perfect my craft. A trumpet player when done with school went to Kenya to develop a music program. All the hours in a practice room changed his life. Saw poverty, saw the disconnect of people feeling like they are nobody. What was innovative in his training was he could use those skills learned to change people’s lives as someone who is moving.

Questions: Round 1

Matt: What does innovation look like in Africa?
Check out Africanet to see the proof. Matt said it is easy not to see the solution. They brought in the Geek Corps and then took away all their tools, put them in a room. They had no access to resources, so solving an issue becomes more acute.  It’s doing more with less when there’s no Radio Shack down the street.

If you do more with less, you can replicate things with what you find in your house. That’s the key. The population is very creative and produce useful technologies. It’s not as visible as innovation here, but it still happens. We need to marry the humanity piece to science.

Aaron, Neeru, and Trang
Aaron: On ethical treatment of animals v. science + technology?
We worked in a model not thinking of animals in long-term implications but without social values. Factory farming / industrial agriculture laid out shows no benefit. Animal agriculture should not be the source of global warming or water pollution, but it is really crucial to take scientific power and draw certain boundaries. Conservation of welfare in working with animals puts a tiny restraint on what can be possible in growing agriculture productively. Must animals suffer loss to become part of the food industry. Do turkeys need to lose their ability to reproduce? We need to make scientific creation and conservation of welfare work together.

Neeru PahariaWhat part of products and your own perception of identity as a self within/out of a group in a social hierarchy is part of what we do as humans?

We need to know where we stand and we use products to help us determine our consumer behavior and identity. We need to parse through what we need in marketing v. psychological marketing. There is a fine line in when marketing becomes manipulative. Sometimes this goes against people’s intrinsic well-being. We need to inject some humility into how we think of ourselves in the distribution. We overestimate our own level of honesty, to not cheat, that we are immune to the temptations of life. Having humility to deal with our ability is important. People believe they will do more but in reality they will not.

Trang, Stanford, Matt
Trung Le: What is the importance of innovation in education and building design’s impact on learning?

We learn a lot by collaborating with educators. Memories have a sense of place connected to them that are quite powerful. How do you translate the sense of place to the power of learning? We know about 19th and 20th century education trained students to a different task. Today we need a different environment to foster innovation. We have the purpose of training a generation to solve problems we have never faced before. SLA is critical in the new critical thinking of PBL/IBL. We try to engage collaboration between educators and us so we can use language to create new learning spaces. If we keep calling a tree a resource, we’ll keep cutting it down until there is nothing left. If we invent a new language to describe the activity we are doing. Classroom has a strong connotation on how we approach and behave in that space. We need new language. Not classrooms.

Change buildings and set points of Western kids toward appreciation of school? How much can we push this? Do perfectly designed schools change everything. No. Le is a huge believer of connectiveness, of things having a relationship with each other. To solve problems w/human interaction. You need the right people with media rich environments. Not mix and match. Design the fitting environment to the pedagogy. Create the ability to innovate.

Stanford Thompson: What is the power of music as a mandatory part of K-12?
The one trillion dollar question. STEM for ARTS? It hasn’t been proven yet, despite great work within the world, great programs, social programs, innovative research. Conclusion: music provided the most pro-social impact and result, but it mattered how the programs were implemented for the development of the child. Performances, use of mentors, many things needed to produce that impact. Can we give the very best resources to our kids for 2.5 hours a day. Marry the students to one instrument for K-12 and create appropriate engagement for learned skills for lifelong learning. How do we define success? Test boxes? Going to college v. the plumber who took one task to excellence and a well-paying job that provides the best for a family. What is the best a family can provide? Often it is a roof and food. You don’t get music in 40 minutes once a week. Today kids in Stanford’s program come to school, grades rise, focus is up/different, no detentions. In 3 years, he hopes students are prepared better. But you need a highly-focused activity. One great teacher.

 Questions: Round 2

Matt: What global skills are transferrable to us?
Global money. Community health care programs. Implication point: hunger for knowledge is not a challenge we are facing in America. Teachers as career makers. In Kenya no one takes going to school for granted. World is smaller through technology. Are we looking at other countries to see their innovation?

We are beginning to connect classrooms through technology. Students connect at a human level.

Aaron: How do you achieve innovation in religious thought?
In thinking about religious thought, thinking broadly as meaning making, ways of thinking about ourselves in the world in a fundamental way. The myth that informs us who we are, in agriculture we need storytellers. It’s not just a technical problem but thinking about people’s relationships to food/raising. The Lord is my Shepherd. He doesn’t put me in a crate and feed me antibiotics. We are the masters of the world but things not human do not equate. We need to take our cultural questions seriously. Novelists are in some ways religious teachers because they help us reimage our world to understand this one. That is the essence of innovation. Using your talents as a novelist to put yourself into the story, who you are and who you want to be. Whole Foods is a different narrative with a different ethos and they create different ways to be profitable and do business.

Leaning through storytelling and narrative is a powerful way to learn.

Neeru Paharia: Can we design schools on a business model that do not compromise students morals? 
Every organization has business elements, including in schools. Schools and organizations cannot have profit as only motive. A school as a business model needs to engage the stakeholders. Recognition. Monetary. You need to try to understand what the stakeholders want, how they will be rewarded. Any institution designed only for profit will have a negative impact. Policies and reward systems must meet the needs of all the stakeholders.

Trung Le: How can institutions reshape/impact education?
Chicago created a modern wing that displays art and artmaking the way it was done 1000 years ago, making nothing there to call it a modern wing. But the story and language behind it is different. Le said he predicted his experience here as he knew he was coming to a museum or institute. The language creates a barrier between you and the stuff, but with new design that barrier is coming down. Circque du Soleil reinvented the narrative of going to a circus. SLA omitted the word school and that gives you an impression of how you should behave as student and a teacher. The idea that you have reinvented yourself as the place of re-experiencing, for example, art, school as a learning and teaching environment. This experience is spotty and Le wonders why a museum as something with stuff and artifacts for learning is not in the learning environment like it is for the FI and SLA.

Stanford Thompson: Hip Hop has taken over so how has Hip Hop leveraged education K-12?
Stanford grew up in Atlanta with hip hop. Stanford said he’s pretty sure everyone loves music. So if we take the love and the curiosity of students and marry it in large groups where students play music with one another, they need engagement collaboratively. Students needs to make music as friends together.  How do we use this to impact learning positively? You make connections.

Quick Questions to the Panel: (Jumping In)

How do you teach children to be innovative?

Stanford: allow them the opportunity to go through the process; let them pick up the instrument and trick them into being innovative.

Aaron: create a space where it can happen, not teach it; getting out of the way and letting it happen.

Matt: let them fail gracefully.

How do we distinguish hype from innovation?
           
Aaron: don’t give up our trust so easily to experts who special knowledge; be more rigorous in what makes us trust; vet people more in our own ways and ask if someone has motives that fit with my values; don’t rely on experts for their expertise and don’t give up our judgment to their expertise

Trung: idea of training generations to be critical thinkers and have the courage to question before accepting; how and what we are teaching children in the next generation

Neeru: be skeptical of motives re: innovation

Matt: hype is the signal; where there’s smoke…

How do you innovate with rich resources? How do leaders cultivate innovation in a resource-rich environment?

Trung: greater sense of freedom to experiment; higher probability of failure but not possible without freedom to support failure

Stanford: leaders can coordinate resources put into alignment but sometimes people are scared to do something different; working in  a place where there are limited or no resources (Kenya) v. here

Aaron: taking the more emotional ethical motivations have motivated people; young people need the permission to get excited to harness the quality of being human beings who can take their vision seriously

Are innovations ethics neutral?

Neeru: innovations can have really destructive consequences, so question if innovation is positive for society

Innovation: going to Mars—a good innovation?

Trung: once we get to Mars, how do we get back to earth was a project that was killed but the person on it reversed the idea and he actually invented a way to power your house; it’s in beta testing; we have the urge to innovate, to find the next voyage and the steps we learn in the process hopefully we use for the good

Aaron: disagreed with the question on Mars. It’s not the question that should be asked. New Orleans is the question that should be asked because it impacts the human condition. If thinking about Mars catalyzes people serendipitously, fine, but Mars has no immediate relevance.

Matt: disagrees with the disagreement. He thinks we need a way to get students motivated to innovate. What’s the sputnik for the next long-term goal to move the frontier forward.

Does innovation in students depend on their level of engagement?

Trung: we give them purpose, the capacity to challenge. How, for example, do you save lives during a flood? The solutions should make a huge difference in people’s lives so we need to give students purpose.

Stanford: money for Mars could it have been put into programs that would give opportunities to students? Could this money cure social issues? We need to allow that to happen. Give them the space to innovate. Pose good questions.

Two minute drill: Should we innovate and why?

Stanford: important and drives what’s being expected because it changes people, communities; the more we can do the better. Yes, in a wha this is rhetorical. How will we do it. Just do it. Get it going. I don’t believe in PowerPoints anymore. Get kids in a room and just let them do it.

Trung: Absolutely. Innovate in education. Health and justice of our planet depends on it. People sitting in our classrooms will have to do this.

Neeru: Definitely. We evolved as people who live in small communities but now the world is huge and abstract.  But the emotional feeling is different because the far-away person is so abstract and that is hard to process. We need to innovate on how we can be global citizens and we haven’t been trained to do that.

Aaron: empathy studies show us how we are built and short-circuited. It is easy to be a force for troublemaking because our instincts have been short-circuited.
We have problems that are solvable and can give our lives meaning.

Matt: Innovating is to be happy. Think about problems, make a difference. It’s empowering and makes us productive.
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