Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, stated in 2016 that we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. He explained, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another” in the article, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond.” This is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.
Schwab describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology.
This Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. He describes it as “developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, fully autonomous vehicles, genetics, and biology are all building on and amplifying each other. Smart systems—homes, factories, farms, grids, or entire cities—will help tackle problems ranging from supply-chain management to climate change” (World Economic Forum, 2016, p. 1).
These changes are disrupting almost every industry in every country around the world.
With the world changing so quickly, how can we get to a place where schools are experimenting and able to adapt at the rate needed to keep up?
As a society and as educators, we are in the middle of major disruptions that are requiring new abilities and new roles in our future workplaces.
A colleague with whom I am fortunate to work with, Dave Yingst, has a wonderful quote from Daniel Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind” on his office wall. It says, “We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.”
It is a powerful statement for educational teachers and leaders to remember as our true north on our compass as we go to work each day this new school year.
If we are going to spark positive change and address educational challenges effectively, then we need new abilities and roles in our workplaces. We need to fine tune our skills in data collection and interpretation and master life-long learning.
But, it isn’t just the teachers who need to look carefully at our approach to education. The role of school leaders needs a major shift also to achieve the talent revolution needed to address the needs of our students in the fourth industrial revolution.
You’ve heard the terms: “design thinking” and “intentional innovation.”
When you hear the phrases “design thinking” and “intentional innovation,” what do you think of?
In recent years, these terms aren’t completely unknown in the educational arena.
Design thinking and innovation have grown among some educators as a natural complement to inquiry, project-based learning, collaboration, and problem-solving. Across the state, some teachers are experimenting with how to use design thinking and innovation to promote student creativity and problem-solving.
But, what if teachers and school leaders approached their work more like designers of innovation? Designers see the world differently and therefore bring a new perspective to their work.
What if educators and leaders could find new perspectives despite their day to day challenges?
Teachers and educational leaders all have a common goal of making education better. We plan lessons, staff meetings, school goals, new programs, and new mandates. Design might happen, but often it happens unintentionally.
Without taking the time to truly understand design principles, many teachers and leaders operate as accidental designers occasionally stumbling on innovative ideas or solutions.
But, without taking the time to understand design principles, many teachers and leaders will never make the shift to becoming intentional designers as educators and leaders. Educators and leaders need to become more knowledgeable about design thinking principles and intentional innovation to achieve a greater impact and solve problems more effectively.
You can download a free beginning toolkit (Version 2) from IDEO.
There are three ways that design thinking and intentional innovation are being used in education today:
1. As a tool for students to become design thinkers
2. As a tool for teachers to design learning experiences
3. As a tool for school leaders to design effective school change
On November 1, Learning Forward PA is honored to have A.J. Juliani present on the topics of design thinking and intentional innovation at our annual fall conference at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, PA. If you are unfamiliar with some of his books, you can view a short sample of one of his books, “Intentional Innovation: How to Guide Risk-Taking, Build Creative Capacity, and Lead Change” by clicking on the previous hyperlink.
LFPA would love to have you join us on November 1st at our conference. Please click here to register.
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