I was surprised to read the findings of a recent survey in which researchers found that only 38% of graduates reported that their educational establishment was at the forefront in adopting innovations. And yet, I hear employers say all the time that the reason they’re excited to hire folks right out of college, is because not only do they come on board with a wealth of new technological savvy, but they’re also considered to be more creative. But with our educational institutions stumbling a bit in the face of new technology and change making, what is the state of innovation in education?
If you think about it, universities and educational institutions are almost always breeding grounds for new ideas, prototypes, and creative thinking. After all, universities are the birthplaces of new discoveries: like the accelerating universe, the founding of Zipcar, the identification of new planets, and myriad other things. So which this disconnect between what graduates perceive to be happening and the seeds of so many promising ideas.
The problem is that everything from new business models to new technologies are being discovered and nurtured in separate pockets of the campus across separate disciplines. Even when innovation is close at hand, there isn’t always someone who is up-leveling, surfacing, and distributing that information so that others gain visibility into that project, as well. That’s one of the key reasons that Entangled Solutions wrote about the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer in the education sector. Sourcing and sharing knowledge is one of their new key objectives.
We’ve been looking at the efforts to introduce innovation into higher education and have noticed a few key idea campaigns that universities always seem interested in running. These campaigns are some of the opportunities for campus-wide learning on which a Chief Innovation Officer could begin their strategy:
Sustainability. Almost every business, school, and individual is thinking about opportunities for going green. Odds are that everyone from your facilities team to your student base has ideas about how to make an impact. Ask them. Diversity. This is one of the most crucial (but also most challenging) subjects to tackle, because it impacts everything from facilities, to admissions and provides the backbone for culture at your institution.
Budget Strategy. Almost every university is looking for ways to become more efficient and people are finding new ways to save money all over campus. Now what if they could share those strategies with everyone else?
Process Improvement. What about new ways for students to access services? What about new career development opportunities for faculty? There are always processes that can be updated and optimized.
10-Year Vision. Don’t make your strategic vision in a vacuum. Find out where others think that you should go. Post your ideas, get feedback on them, or start with a blank slate and have your community tell you what the future holds.