The three Ps of innovation in education

the elite unit of education entrepreneurs
The elite unit of education entrepreneurs

Over the last few weeks we have been evaluating the hundreds of proposals we received for the first round of the Open Education Challenge. The process is complex, as each of these proposals is evaluated simultaneously by two evaluators. The quality and passion that are present in each proposal is remarkable. Key concepts that I thought were only shared by a few experts are widely spread across this new community of ‘education entrepreneurs’.

I will highlight three of them:

  • The first driver for innovation is to create a positive environment that will counter the increasing disengagement of students. This is true everywhere, from the UK to Romania, from Kenya to Chile. Every single entrepreneur is worried about school dropouts, lack of motivation and growing inequalities in accessing a good education.
  • The second driver has to do with the need to connect learners to content in a personalised and responsive way. Personal assessment is no longer seen as an imposition, but as an opportunity to learn better.
  • The third main driver is participation. Innovation in education is made possible by a rich social experience between learners.

These three PsPositive – Personalised – Participation – are another way to look at innovation in education.

The Open Education Challenge demonstrates that many innovators in education exist all around the world. They are a kind of ‘elite unit’, and a first step towards a systematic deployment of innovation into education.

Last week in Israel, I had a conversation with my friend Hanoch Piven about the ‘elite units’ that have been one of the reasons for the emergence of the ‘start-up nation’. Hanoch insisted on several traits of these elite units that could be useful to understand who are, or could be, education entrepreneurs:

  • Small groups disconnected from the education ‘mainstream’ with its heavy regulations and preconceptions.
  • A strong ethos which motivates the members to replicate past successes, and motivates applicants to want to become a part of it.
  • An expectation of its members to excel, be original, daring, relentless, honest with each other, self critical, and team players.

If the Open Education Challenge does lead to the creation of an elite unit of education entrepreneurs, their – and the Challenge’s – success will depend on the ability/receptiveness of the ‘establishment’ to mainstream these innovations by breaking with the rigidity of our current education systems.

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