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The Problem(s) with Innovation

Keynote for the Bronx EdTech Showcase, 5/9/14
by

George Otte

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of The Problem(s) with Innovation

The Question
Innovation is risk-taking
Resource management is essentially risk management
In a word...
The Answer
"The way we’re going to survive is to innovate our way out of this"
-- Steve Jobs to
Time
in 2002
What Steve Jobs was looking at was a host of problems: the burst dot.com bubble, an economic downturn, widespread disappointment n the promise of the Web, technology generally. Think what's happened since then.

What higher ed is facing is a host of problems just as formidable: depleted funding, downturning enrollments. flat-lining completion, a fast-changing job market, faster-changing technology, etc., etc.
The Need
What’s fascinating about our point in time is that we have reached a moment when, for all sorts of reasons (fiscal, social, structural), the most dangerous thing you can do is play it safe
The Moment
The Problem(s) with Innovation
and some steps toward solution(s)
It’s precisely because it's too risky not to take risks that you see all sorts of odd behavior from and disruptive interventions around higher education — MOOCs, competency-based credit, corporate partnerships, etc.
The Response
The Tension(s)
not really centralization vs. decentralization but consolidation vs. distribution (differently located and motivated practices or behaviors)
Curtis Carlson, CEO of SRI International
Carlson's Law

In a world where so many people now have access to education and cheap tools of innovation, innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb.

As a result the sweet spot for innovation today is "moving down," closer to the people, not up, because all the people together are smarter than anyone alone and all the people now have the tools to invent and collaborate.
The Law
Innovation vs. Resource Management
University Director of Academic Technology
George Otte
Innovation is risk-taking

When getting to the crux of this tension, only one of the journalistic questions helps, really. (The rest are about getting into the blame game, if not the weeds.)
"Innovation
Exhaustion"*
*a term coined by Dan Greenstein of the Gates Foundation in noting that “innovation exhaustion comes out in an obvious and growing frustration with MOOCs.”
The (Goldilocks) Point
The key may be that last word: visibility. We want innovation to be noticed enough to get resourced, to get attention, eventually to get scaled up.
Spaces for Collaboration
Means of Surfacing Innovations
Full transcript