From the Economist to Wikipedia to Websters to Barack Obama to Innovation Zen, around the globe, we seek tangible answers for an intangible question: What is Innovation? Definitions vary and people mean different things. After reviewing dozens of definitions from a diverse set of sources, I propose a consensus on a simple definition…as a basis for future conversations about Innovation.
Innovation is significant positive change. It’s a result. It’s an outcome. It’s something you work towards achieving on a project. If you are successful at solving important problems, peers you respect will call your work innovative and you an innovator. Let them choose the word.
Innovation in education:
Innovation does not just mean new technology. Educational innovation can be found in processes, services, programmes and partnerships. To be truly innovative, an intervention should:
- Improve learning, equity and systems
- Solve a real problem in a simple and clear way (be demand-driven)
- Match the scale of the problem it is trying to solve.
Some innovations do capitalize on new technologies – for instance, putting math lessons on durable tablets powered by open-source software for children in hard-to-reach areas in Sudan, or using SMS on mobile phones to identify bottlenecks that impede quality education for marginalized children in Peru.
Others draw on the creativity and experience of communities, such as a programme in Ghana that uses play to enhance young children’s learning and development.
Many innovators are already at work in schools, classrooms, communities and civil society organizations. UNICEF works to identify them, help them show their impact, broker partnerships, and transform the lives of the most marginalized children.