What are Innovation Spaces?

[eSchoolNews highlights a research project by Herman Miller, a design company, that took a look at three different types of opportunities for innovation – “Maker Spaces, hacker projects, and co-working or co-location spaces. ]

Spaces for makers, hackers and coworkers on campus could support better learning, and entrepreneurial, outcomes. But what do they look like?

maker-spaces-innovationDesignated spaces for “tinkering” at some of the country’s most prestigious institutions may not only spur lifelong learning habits, but also produce social and technological innovations critical to today’s economy, says a new report.

Thanks to more broad access to the internet, as well as “breakthroughs” in manufacturing, innovation has been democratized, says a new research report by HermanMiller, in turn creating a “new driver for the economy.”

And it’s the forward-thinking institutions who understand this driver that have begun to implement spaces for makers (tinkerers), hackers (deconstructors), and coworkers (networkers).

There’s an “emerging culture of ‘learning by doing,’” notes the report–spearheaded by lead education researcher for HermanMiller, Susan Whitmer–and this is “shifting how future workers learn to innovate.”

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What Education Might Look Like in the Next 5 Years

[Each year the New Media Group with CoSN publishes the Horizon Report for K-12. The report gathers information from a variety of experts across the globe to look at trends and emerging technologies. Here’s a summary from Mindshift.]

In a fast-moving field like education technology, it’s worth taking a moment to take stock of new developments, persistent trends and the challenges to effective tech implementation in real classrooms. The NMC Horizon 2015 K-12 report offers a snapshot of where ed tech stands now and where it is likely to go in the next five years, according to 56 education and technology experts from 22 countries.


Deeper Learning: The expert panel identified several long-term trends that will greatly influence the adoption of technology in classrooms over the next five years and beyond. They see worldwide educators focusing on “deeper learning” outcomes that try to connect what happens in the classroom to experts and experiences beyond school as an important trend.

Teachers at the cutting edge of this work are asking students to use technology to access and synthesize information in the service of finding solutions to multifaceted, complex problems they might encounter in the real world. The popularity of project-based learning, global collaboration and integrated learning experiences is driving this trend and powerful tech use as an extension of it.

Rethinking Traditions: Educators are also rethinking how school has traditionally worked, questioning everything from school schedules, to how individual disciplines are taught and how success and creativity are measured. This macro trend to shake up typical ways of schooling is opening new opportunities for technology to play an even bigger role in education. Finland took a big step toward reimagining school when it did away with many traditional subjects in favor of interdisciplinary classes that more accurately reflect a world in which disciplines influence one another. Some U.S districts have also tried to reimagine how school would look with movements toward competency-based models that don’t rely on time in class as the constant variable.

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Putting Research to Work

[The Digital Promise has a number of initiatives that are bringing best practices, collaboration, and research together. At a Summit in NYC on June 15-16 researchers, educators, and developers had a chance to discuss some of the key challenges and opportunities. Here’s a report from the Summit:]


Karen Cator (left), President & CEO of Digital Promise, talks with Martha Kanter (right), professor and senior fellow at New York University. Kanter was Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2013.

Despite some amazing pockets of excellence throughout the country, equity is a serious problem in American education. Millions of Americans – both youth and adults – lack access to quality learning opportunities and resources, including the Internet, that would help them enter and finish college, and succeed in the 21st century workforce.

Yet, according to Martha Kanter, opening speaker at our Summit to Put Research to Work on June 15-16, 2015, there is a path forward. The New York University professor and former Under Secretary of Education suggested we use what we know about student success to build more collaborative partnerships between people who can take action to improve learning for all.

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