This week in #EducationNow, join us for an article on the power of education to empower innovation.

Innovation is a driving force of the world economy. Education, in its power to stimulate critical thinking skills and build the ability to implement innovation, is a strategic investment in the future. However, the great difficulty in the educational field is that traditional models, in general, focus more on transmitting knowledge than empowering innovation. Generating educational approaches that incorporate an emphasis on developing innovative capabilities is a huge opportunity and challenge alike.

Moving from Linear Evolution to Circular Innovation

Exploring how the world of knowledge production has changed can help us to inspire different approaches on training the innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Previously, we adopted a simple linear model of innovation, where science engendered technologies that, depending on the absorption capacity of the market and the scale of the consuming public, could be characterized as innovation. This linear model distanced the free and uncompromised production of knowledge: science, from the opposite end linked to meeting the demands of the consumer market: innovation.

Recently, the most disruptive innovations go beyond meeting demands. They are characterized by Say’s Law: supply that creates its own demand. It means generating products and services so innovative that consumers will be convinced that it is impossible to live without something that, curiously, they never missed before. In other words, research, development, and innovation are becoming more multidisciplinary than ever, motivated by complex demands and, therefore, practically intractable in the light of lines of research or isolated individuals. 

The above movements can be described by a gradual replacement of the sequential linear model – from science to technology to innovation, mentioned above – by a complete circle, without origin or end. This circle symmetrically involves science, technology and innovation at each stage. In this case, the demands of innovation influence, and to some extent define, the direction of science. It is the head of the snake that bites its own tail.

Educating to Drive Innovation

There is a relevant common element that underlies both education and the ability to innovate: the preponderance of digital technologies based on an abundance of data and a computational capacity unimaginable even a few years ago. All of this, plus the impressive possibilities in terms of sophisticated algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machines learning.

The capacity to innovate, making active and creative use of new technologies, also includes the domain of culture, psychology, anthropology, and an appreciation for the arts. This includes training professionals and citizens to situate themselves as part of a larger global ecosystem, geographically and historically, making them capable of understanding the totality and complexity of this new context.

Educationally, we can discuss how traditional models and their content, delivery models, and processes are being gradually replaced to expand the capacity for permanent and sophisticated acquisition of any knowledge. It means going beyond cognition, and exploring metacognition, associated with increased awareness on the parts of both the learner and the educator, about how, where, by what media, and with whom we learn best. These discussion points are essential elements to enable courses or activities: formal or informal and molded in hybrid, distance, flexible and, especially, personalized learning trails.

In this context, more than understanding specific areas of knowledge, it is about exploring the connections between different domains, generating multidisciplinary tools capable of solving problems or missions, whatever they may be. Individual knowledge is limited – so, we now ask: how can we unite the power of individuals to expand learning outcomes, solve problems, and generate innovation?

Educationally, the snake biting its own tail means training the professionals, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators of tomorrow to successfully face new challenges involves transcending traditional learning models to truly leverage digital tools and technologies. 

explore how Cisco is transforming education

The world of education is rapidly changing, and current events have only accelerated this pace. To help navigate new hybrid and distance learning experiences, hear from industry experts and customers on how to create a secure hybrid learning experience and where the future of education is heading. Join us for The Future of Education: Hybrid Classrooms on September 2, 2020.

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How are you enabling innovation in your education institution? Tell us in the comments and stay tuned for more thought leadership from #EducationNow next week.


Ronaldo Mota

Scientific Director of Digital Pages

Brazilian Academy of Education