Simply stated, innovation is almost antithetical to standardization. If the standard is the goal, then there really is no room for innovation. To innovate is to improve upon something using new methods or approaches. Conversely, to make something standard is to establish a goal that all products are the same. Of course, someone can use a standard to innovate or make a change for the better, but for that person the standard ceased to be the goal since they felt the need to improve upon it. Therefore, innovation is the process of recognizing a standard and improving upon it. An innovative mindset will purse this process indefinitely. For an innovative person the standard is the starting point rather than the end product.
For an innovative person the standard is the starting point rather than the end product.
Many educational professionals love standards (or at least hold them as semi-sacred) . They give us direction and provide criteria to measure our success with students. The adoption of a certain set of standards or benchmarks provide us a normative affirmation that we are comparable to others around the state, nation, or globe. There is certainly a need for such direction in planning the educational experiences of others. However, if the concept of innovation is to be incorporated into the educational experience, setting new and different standards is not the vehicle to integrate innovative practices, strategies, and tools.
Standards and benchmarks are generally driven by student normative and criteria-based curricular data from a cross section of institutions. A successful sets of standards become more readily adopted and less pliable as time progesses. Unless there is an overhaul in standards, there tends to be little change in subject oriented standards from year-to-year. Teachers use standards and benchmarks to assess student progress at regular intervals and over long periods of time. This, of course, serves to help students and educators quantitatively recognize growth and development in subject areas and academic pursuits. This is an important aspect of education, but it falls short if we are to assess a student’s innovation or a teacher’s ability to integrate innovative approaches.
Markers Instead of Standards
The concept of markers, on the other hand, offer a viable enhancement to the idea of measuring and assessing the innovation. Before proceeding, think of the function of a hashtag in social media. The use of a marker is similar. Markers share a normative quality in as much as they set a common language for people to apply and use to various concepts and/or actions. Just like hashtags, markers provide an organizational framework to catalogue and track the development of ideas as they emerge. Markers give terms and expression to emergent changes and trends. Using key words, one can track and establish an order to new methods and ideas while maintaining responsiveness to the changes. Markers are not additive in nature, but rather observant and integrative. Again, similarly to hashtags, a marker does not replace a category, it provides more information about the ideas and trends present within the category. The driving concept behind a marker is to enhance rather than replace or add to what is being currently practiced. Therefore, day-to-day teaching does not need innovation/technology standards. Rather, educators need a way to translate observation to a plan of action that will promote innovative qualities in their students.
Markers give terms and expression to emergent changes and trends.
Learning Innovation Makers
Learning Innovation Markers (LIMs) are designed to help a specific community identify (or mark) evidence of innovative learning skills and practices. LIMs should still be aligned with normative standards, such as the 2007 and/or 2016 ISTE Student Standards. Through a collaborative development process, the LIMs establish a vision and framework for the integration of innovative tools, approaches, and practices applicable to established teaching practices. The LIMs allow for an emergent implementation of technology and innovative practices by providing common terminology, focusing on current, successful teaching practices, and identifying areas for improvement through the assistance of technology integration specialists.
Learning Innovation Markers allow for an emergent implementation of technology and innovative practices…
The learning innovation markers reduce technical verbiage and make the basic ideas of innovation accessible and easily identifiable for all. Much like the function of a #hastag in social media, a marker can help identify, organize, and structure innovative teaching and learning practices to inform future vertical and horizontal alignment across the curriculum, grade levels, and sections. The implementation of Learning Innovation Markers ultimately seeks to provide integrative guidance into already established teaching practices rather than adding a new layer of standards to be regularly assessed.
The nature of innovation is to surpass the standard. By relying on standards to guide innovation is like fitting new wine in old wine skins. Education’s propensity to standardize cannot accommodate the idea of innovation; thus, by applying strict standards, we corrupt the sweet invigorating taste an innovative thought or product can bring to our world.
Featured Image: Emergent by Ryan Vaarsi via Flickr