We live in an age of innovation. It’s the “in thing” and everyone wants to play in the sandbox. We write blogs about innovation, we tweet about innovation, and we even use the term in company meetings to foster productivity. Companies are in branding wars to bring the next innovative product to the market. We seek out innovators and study their habits, their product, and their thoughts.
Innovation starts with a need and ends with a shift in thinking. The need is higher education and the problem is higher education. We all hear about the need to reform education at all levels. We have political candidates who run on platforms with promises to change education. If the need to change education is so important, why does higher education change face so much criticism internally? Because the talk of change is not followed by a true belief for change.
The data tells a story about why higher education practices need to change, but unless true belief for change accompanies the data, a shift in thinking never occurs. For instance, Steve Jobs did not just change technology. He changed how we think about technology. He made it personal.
If higher education is going to make any sort of truly innovative changes, it must start with a change in how we view education. Education is no longer just ivy-covered buildings, student unions, and large lecture halls. Education is personal. It’s personal to the mid-level career woman who wants to shatter the glass ceiling. It’s personal to the retired banker who is ready for his second act. It’s personal to the single mother trying to make a better life for her children. Finally, it’s personal to all of us because this is our future and we are responsible for envisioning education as it needs to be. It’s up to us, now, to cultivate an environment for future innovators by providing educational options that allow them to succeed.
Technology has afforded higher education the ability to reach more people and the capability to remove existing barriers. The only thing holding higher education back? The true belief for change and that it can happen. As we continue to await the ideas being discussed during the current negotiated rule-making session, we need to believe that solutions are possible when we stop thinking that the answers only exist in the way things have always been done.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein