Marking the Conditions for Innovative Learning

Featured Image:Exploration-Innovation Missy Schmidt via Flickr

Technology integration at Ruamrudee International School ties instructional practice and technological resources into 6 Markers for Innovation: Expansion, Creativity, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Lifelong Learning, Connections.

These markers set forth various indicators/descriptions that can help educators innovatively design instructional experiences and learning environment.  In his book, the Innovative Mindset, George Couros explores the necessary conditions for innovation in the classroom.  The following attempts to synthesize RIS’s Learning Innovation Markers and Couros ideas.


The key to expansion is learning how to access and work with content to construct and revise new understandings.  Through active learning and reflective thought, learners develop methods and strategies to find the right information and content for the purpose at hand.  Using constructive practices and a variety of resources, learners increasingly access valuable content via reliable avenues while developing adaptive learning approaches that promote critical thinking and idea creation.

What is Your Choice
by Aaron Davis via Flickr

Couros Conditions: Choice-One of main ideas of expansion is to promote authentic learning experiences.  There is no authenticity without ‘Choice’.  Critical Thinkers: Learning to evaluate resources to separate truth from fiction and separate the biases within sources helps students sift and develop ways to pursue valuable content.


The driving force behind creativity is the process of finding new ways of doing or expressing oneself to improve, or enrich, the life and experience of oneself and others.  Creativity does not originate from a void.  Rather, creativity is the emergence of thoughts and ideas one has from the interactions and reflections of their environment.  Finding new ways to meet others needs or connect with others enables a person to begin the creative endeavour.


by Denise Krebs via Flickr

Couros Conditions: Opportunities for Innovation–Innovation is combining, tweaking, and modifying various ideas and products to address a unique need for one’s community. Time for Reflection:  This condition of innovation can be closely tied to other markers, such as Expansion and Lifelong Learning.  However, creativity requires honest and concise reflective practices to promote active/critical observation of one’s environment.



Digital Citizenship

Pierre Phaneuf via Flickr

A learner can not gain valuable citizenship qualities in the vacuum of a self-contained classroom.  While it may start in the classroom, learners must develop healthy, positive interactions and respect for others, both in-person and virtually.  Learning to acknowledge and respect the validity of others’ expectations and values is essential.  By acting and interacting from this acknowledgement and respect provides the basis for developing healthy interactions.

Couros Condition:  Voice— Finding one’s voice in the sea of opinions and facts is an exercise not just in communication but also in conviction.  In the process, learners should develop an open understanding that others may not agree with or even criticize .  A learner who is developing a healthy ‘voice’ will attempt to positively interact with those who agree or disagree with their perspective in every context.

Digital Literacy

2015-07-05b Thinking about problem-finding -- index card #problem-solving #problem-finding
by Sacha Chua via Flickr

The ability to navigate different contexts by searching, constructing, and conveying meaning requires strategies and skills involving the ability to read, understand, and deliver.  Often times conceptual and physical tools are necessary to assist learners’ literary development.  In the modern era, digital tools are increasingly at the populace’s disposal when finding problems, generating solutions, and conveying results.

Couros Conditions: Problem Solvers/Finders–The better one’s level of digital literacy is the more access they have to ways of finding problems and developing solutions for the problems they find.

Lifelong Learning

By finding one’s passions and interests in life, individuals can become motivated to adopt and implement personal learning systems that help them pursue and develop into the next iteration of themselves.  Basically, learners who pursue improvement throughout life become masters at transference and can teach themselves anything that piques their interest at any time.  The ability to self-assess one’s own understanding and skills in a certain area is key to transference.  Learners must know where to start to gain new, more advanced, understandings and skills.

by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr
by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr

Couros Conditions: Self-Assessment: Being motivated to assess one’s own understanding is essential to learning something new .  In order to assess oneself, there needs to be some sort of comparison to set up an evaluative measure for true self-assessment.  Evaluative measures for self-assessment could include external comparison, authoritative guidelines, and personal evaluative approaches.  Whatever the evaluative measure used, a learner must produce some kind of evidence to employ an evaluative measure.  Over time, the collection of evidence provides an arch of development detailing one’s growth.  Digital portfolios can help tell the story of this development and evaluative strategies.  This intrinsically sets up a learner’s road map to passions and interests. Connected Learning: By connecting with others, students can learn how to do new things and old things in new ways.  While this process should not be directly competitive in nature, connecting with others to see how they do things can help one evaluate and improve upon their own practices and habits.


This marker focuses on the connections learners make to resources to further personal development and learning.  These resources can be physical inanimate objects (books, journals, etc), places (library, resource centre, maker space, classroom, etc.), people (teacher, mentor, coach, parents, professionals), and of course virtual.  In fact, virtual connections can supplant or augment the former resources.  This is why virtual connections are so important to focus on as we teach.  The more exposure learners have to various ways to connect with resources via virtual connections, the more resourceful learners become to draw upon in new situations.  Good connections can set up better adaptability to new situations.

by David Armano via Flickr

Couros Conditions–Connected Learning:  With technology and the skills to connect virtually  “students develop their own understanding of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.”  Educators should create learning opportunities and environments that enable students to find and build connections both in-person and virtually.  Through their interactions, learners can access feedback while finding inspiration in others’ work, whether peers or experts.


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