Evolving Education: Investing in Student-Bred Innovations

With Kickstarter campaigns making headlines with Android-based console game systems and zombie apocalypse iPhone apps  and really cool watches, it has gotten me wondering: How do we move students from being the beneficiaries of Donors Choose buttons to the entrepreneurs creating innovations that help our schools?

See what I did there?  It isn’t just teaching them how to be innovators and creators — that is rewarding unto itself and incredibly important.  Now, take it to the next level by harnessing that energy for reinvestment into the school itself.  I believe we have tremendous untapped potential in the resourcefulness, capabilities and vision of our students to make lasting, important physical, technological, and pedagogical change happen.

We read stories about students making benches, planting trees, setting up recycling programs in schools all the time. I’m not linking to any here because, well, you’ve seen all of that before.  And those endeavors deserve recognition.

What would happen if our students were learning the coding necessary to design a smartphone app germaine to the school?  Perhaps it might feature schedules, maps, forms, school email access, all in one place.

What would happen if our students were learning the coding necessary to design an in-house standards recording system, one that meets the particular needs of the school and can be managed by students and staff?

What would happen if students were designing better, more ergonomic classroom chairs that could be constructed from sustainable, local materials?

What would happen if students were creating emotionally intelligent signage for our schools and building the infrastructure to easily swap out that signage?

How might Kickstarter or Upstart support such endeavors with students landing investors rather than waiting for donations to roll in?

Admittedly tonight I’m not a big one for answers.  I’m just raising a great many questions.  There are ethical concerns to be certain as well — what happens to an innovation created by a student on school time?  Does the student continue to own it?  Does the school?  I honestly have no idea.

And right now, it feels like a barrier I’m throwing out there just to throw out the barrier.  Ignore that for a moment and think about the possibilities of what our students could create, how they could make schools better places, if they had an angel investor or two believing in them.

About Dan Ryder

Dan Ryder & Jeff Bailey, co-founders of Wicked Decent Learning, a blog, podcast, Twitter feed and who-knows-what-all-else devoted to teaching and learning in Vacationland and beyond. Teachers, dads, actors, writers, geeks, buds.

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