The first European incubator for innovation in education

open education challenge


The PISA results released last week (see my last entry) tell us about the urgent need to transform our education systems in most European countries.

We must now decide whether this much needed innovation can be brought about from inside the system, or if it must be the result of a “disruptive” process led by committed individuals and “education entrepreneurs” from all over Europe.

My conviction is that education practitioners, technology geeks  and web entrepreneurs will be determinant to change. They have the ability and willingness to invent tools, content and devices that will benefit learners and trainers, alongside students and teachers. For the first time, technology seems robust and user-friendly enough to enable real innovation in the classroom.

But what kind of innovations are desirable, and for what kind of learning?

Innovation is about personalising learning and measuring progress, involving parents and peers by making the whole process a shared one. The change is drastic as education will no longer be confined to the classrooms. It raises huge opportunities for improving teacher training and parental support. It requires new content that will be created ad-hoc for mobile devices.

Last week the French daily Le Monde published a series of opinion pieces on the status of French schools after the devastating PISA report. According to the sociologist Nathalie Bulle, the criteria for students to succeed are: quality teachers, academic exigency, ability to raise students’ own expectations and transparent assessment. The researcher Julien Grenet underlines the importance of assessment as one of the main lessons of PISA. Although you may not like the results, PISA provides a huge amount of data that enables us to understand and improve educational systems.

What is done at the macro-level for policy purposes now has to be forwarded to the classroom for each student.

The amount of data that we can now access and take into account to personalise learning and measure progress is one of the main drivers for innovation in education.

How do we retrieve data, how do we visualise and analyse it, what do we do with it to create new tools and new content, and how do we select the right content for the right student? These are some of the questions that innovators and practitioners will have to address:

  • Creating educational apps, books, learning resources on every subject, giving teachers the tools to create their own resources, facilitating access to learning through online and interactive courses, helping students and teachers to choose the right resources from hundreds of thousands, and creating personalised learning plans;
  • Providing specific, targeted challenges and assessments to complete each week, allowing teachers, trainers and parents to monitor daily usage with robust and easy to use dashboards, transforming physical classrooms, and building blended learning solutions;
  • Improving schools’ and universities’ management, creating new bridges between education and employment, linking students with future employers, processing online tests and building new sets of certified skills…

Opportunities are huge, innovation is everywhere and investing in education will be a direct source of jobs and growth. And Europe should lead the way.

This is why in a few weeks P.A.U. Education will present the first European incubator for innovation in education and launch, in partnership with the European Commission, the “Open Education Challenge”, an invitation to all innovators to submit projects, receive technical support and access funding for their future companies. Our focus is on “education first” and our conviction is threefold:

  • Successful innovation processes in the field of education must involve education specialists all the way;
  • Europe will be the leading force in innovation in education;
  • Investors are eager to find new opportunities for socially responsible and profitable new ventures.

One Response to “ “The first European incubator for innovation in education”

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