Innovate or Implode


February 28, 2010 by jbrettjacobsen

Last week I had the distinct privilege to attend the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools in San Francisco.  Pat Bassett, President of NAIS, commented, “The death of education as we know it may be the prelude to the birth of learning as we need it.”  Entrepreneurs, educators, business leaders, technology experts, consultants, and venture capitalists used the word “innovation” over and over and over in every general session, breakout meeting, lunch conversation, and evening gathering.  The conference was affirming, challenging, and overwhelming at times.  I think it is always great to come away with more questions than answers.  In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “The Innovator’s DNA,” making associations, observing, experimenting, networking and asking the right questions are critical components for any company, organization, and even an independent school to sustain itself.  Not exhaustive but some highlights/questions I noted from the conference:

  • What is innovation?  Are schools responsible to innovate?  Who are the innovators at your school?
  • According to John Couch, VP for Education at Apple, three current trends are impacting traditional ways of teaching: (1) proliferation of digital content; (2) mobile platforms; and (3) integration of learning environment with social media communities.
  • Does the use of technology cause for substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition of our educational system?
  • Michael Horn, author of Disrupting Class, challenges schools to move away from a monolithic, one size fits all to a more student-centered approach.  Disruptive innovation can be more affordable, simple, and customized.
  • Are students consumers or producers?
  • What is your value proposition?
  • Design thinking causes organizations to go through the process of empathy, defining, ideation, creating a prototype, and testing.
  • The new economy, fast pace of technology, and global influences require leaders to be fearless.
  • African proverb says, “Never test the water with both feet.”

Finally, a new section comes to my blog, “Currently Reading.”  It allows you to get a glimpse at the associations, observations, and questions I am making/asking as an educational leader.


One thought on “Innovate or Implode

  1. Thanks for your post! I enjoyed the conference as well and found some of the other sessions quite stimulating.

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Dr. Brett Jacobsen

Head of School
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
Atlanta, GA

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