We throw around the word "innovation" a lot in education today. Indeed, it's one of our favourite words at Microsoft, as we've frequently referred to Innovative Teachers or Innovative Schools programmes in this blog.
But what does it really mean?
I was reading an education and technology blog put out by Edutopia, the journal of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (that's right, THE George Lucas, as in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and so forth).
This blogger was talking about innovation and asked teachers (and these are US teachers, mind you), to write in and discuss how they are using technology in innovative ways to support their teaching and their students' learning.
I have to admit, I was surprised by some of the answers, as they didn't seem very innovative to me. Using wireless mice on classroom computers? Playing videos for students from a computer rather than on a television?
But what do I know?
I'm visiting schools in the UK on a regular basis, and I've visited schools all over the world, but many times I'm visiting a "showcase" school that the government or partner uses as an example. I know that schools and teachers have to start somewhere; innovative use of technology is different for a teacher new to using ICT than it is for a teacher for whom computers are old hat. At the same time, there are many teachers who use technology regularly but may not be innovative. I've seen many teachers using technology simply to replace old tools, such as pencil and paper, rather than using it to do things that students couldn't do without it.
I know there must be a million examples of innovative uses of technology in schools in the UK, but other than a handful of examples I don't know where it is, who is doing it, and what impact it is having on teaching and learning. So you tell me - what are you doing with ICT that's innovative? How do you define innovation?
I know you have more going on here than our friends across the pond. Either add a comment to this post or complete a Virtual Classroom Tour on the Innovative Teachers Network and tell us what you're doing.