Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can We Teach Innovation?

Ever since last year's 4th grade tech fair I've been thinking about this idea of innovation. Can it be taught? What does it mean? I probably need to reverse those two questions to answer them.

I wrote a few posts about it.

We have a tradition at the International School of Prague- a Tech Fair for 4th grade- where students and parents are invited to come and share in the students' research on an aspect of technology. Last year I wanted to bend it more towards showcasing an innovation, but I think there is a lot of room for improvement.

I was initially thinking about a Maker Faire. Something like this:

With about 1/1000 of the people and options.

Speaking of that video, I can't possibly think of Flushing Meadows without thinking of this:
You complete me

But there was something else I was thinking about with innovation. It was sparked by this TED talk:

I was thinking about this remixing, iterative process with my own work.

One of my "Eureka" moments, which I realize is very relative, was when I envisioned the plot of a children's book in graduate school. While I was trying to fall asleep one night in Ann Arbor, I had a kind of a half-awake dream, which led to a story where every time the protagonist acted sheepish, a giant hand would appear and drop a full grown sheep on the boy.

The boy would feel the entirety of the impact.

 And he kept accumulating sheep until he found the confidence to stand up for himself.
Unfortunately the consequences of the new found confidence was tragic. That's kind of how I write stuff, which is derivative of everything I've written since 7th grade. 

But that character was taken from another story I had written while I was teaching in Guinea:
 That story was a little stranger

I thought that "Sheepish" was an original story. But the graphics (because I can't draw) and the genre are completely derivative... and iterative, and each incarnation is an advancement of an idea I had when I was 13 years old. 

Then last week I saw this video:

I love the idea of this.
The idea of structured innovation with their game cards seems very intriguing. I went to Brooklyn Game Lab's website and found some examples:

I also loved the revelation that feedback feeds innovation. This gave me the idea of instead of a summative assessment, an innovation-based Tech Expo could be formative. Whatever a 4th grader decides to present- a board game, a comic, a Scratch video game, or whatever, they can use the Expo's participants to improve their innovation.
They can try out their games.
Or read their comics.
Or eat their new recipes.
And fill out comment cards that can be used to improve their innovations. A Tech Expo would then be one step, instead of a final presentation, for a student-centered project.
In any case, this is just a seed of an idea. Maybe my fourth grade team and I will be able to develop it further in the coming days.
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