The Schoolhouse of the Future

February 25, 2011 By Aminda

 Anyone wondering whether the workforce of the future will be prepared to manage rapid innovation should be interested in some examples of how educators, beyond Henry Chesbrough at the Haas Business School, UC Berkeley, are stepping up to ensure classrooms evolve; utilizing technology and teamwork to prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. 

Even outside the classroom, today’s students have ample opportunities to participate in innovation challenges.  International companies from Dow to Henkel encourage forward thinking through by rewarding teams of problem solvers for work on projects from sustainability to branding. Students at Cambridge University currently have the opportunity to solve problems for UK biotech company MedImmune. Questions range from ‘How to foster innovation and invention at MedImmune?’ to ‘How to measure the transport of protein drugs into the brain?, involving students in a wide range of disciplines.

In the U.S., the department of education is setting an example for teachers, creating a program that rewards teams of public school teachers for solving educational challenges such as assisting English language learners and engaging the community. The National Education Association will then will provide funding for teachers to implement and test the innovative solutions. The Open Innovation Portal has received nearly 2,000 registrants since launching in the Fall of 2010.

 A new generation of educators are leading the way, pushing the bounds with creative pedagogy. Vanderbilt University mathematics professor Derek Bluff shares his experience teaching a seminar on crowdsourcing into which he incorporates Twitter dialog and presents tools such as prediction markets.

Duke University professor Cathy Davidson teaches two open source classes; “This Is Your Brain on the Internet”and “21st Century Literacies.” Both introduce students to crowdsourcing by letting them accept some of the responsibility of running the class, including grading and teaching. Blogging about the courses Davidson shares, “They were shocked when I said, if they wanted, if they felt one student wrote far better under pressure than anyone else, and if they all wanted to pay that person to write the perfect exam question for them, as long as they each contributed funding to his or her writing, they could call that the form of collaboration they chose.  It’s the capitalist form.” 



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