FacultyEnlight

HOW TO SCALE SCHOOL INNOVATION

Countries all across the world are constantly trying to improve education. Whether discussing primary education, higher education, or real-life training for future jobs, America is often at the center of the education debate. In this TEDx talk by President Obama’s former speech writer Alan Frankel, we learn what change—whether small- or large-scale—can help improve our country’s education outlook.

Despite claims to expand creative horizons within the education landscape, America’s current emphasis seems to favor standardized testing while forgetting the growing needs for innovation and creativity. As Roland Fryer, economist and faculty director of the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard, has found, conventional techniques in the classroom simply haven’t been able to overcome America’s struggling education system. “Smaller class sizes. Teachers with master’s degrees. Things you think would work… at scale, have not made as big a difference,” says Frankel about Fryer’s findings. But something that can make a difference, however, is technology.

Technology allows for personalization, access and ways to help students who have fallen behind, and more. So how can technological innovation help everyday classrooms? Frankel, the former Executive Director of Digital Promise—an independent, bipartisan nonprofit authorized by Congress to spur innovation in education for all levels of learners—and the Digital Promise website outline three challenges to scaling innovation throughout education:

  • Research:  We need better, faster research that shows what works for students and what doesn’t. Innovation in education needs to become a priority.
  • Investment: Schools aren’t sure what kinds of education technology to invest in, so many end up buying unnecessary equipment or neglecting to buy anything at all. Proper education in resources will help faculty and students alike.
  • Implementation: Without proper verbal, governmental, and budgetary support of innovative breakthroughs, no strategies can be implemented. Teachers must be trained and allowed to try out these new technology initiatives in the classroom.

Digital Promise has paired researchers with both traditional and charter school systems nationwide to form the League of Innovative Schools, essentially testing these new findings with 2.7 million students across 21 states.

“I’m actually a skeptic when it comes to technology,” admits Frankel. “It is by no means a silver bullet or a panacea.” Nevertheless, he sees huge potential when it comes to technology—but truthfully, “It’s about the learning environment the technology enables.” Frankel feels that empowering teachers, students, and parents with proven technological practices will make a true difference in every level of education.