“What universities could do better to be more innovative?” a new friend asked me yesterday.

“Rethink professional development for educators,” I said. “Bring diverse people together into one room for an open conversation.”

Innovation requires new ideas blending together. Good ideas appear when diverse people connect, talk and share. Simple.

Ways to connect people online

A few years back I co-founded an online community for teachers as part of the Connected Educators movement, which brings together educators from all around the world to learn new methods of teaching by simply chatting and sharing online.

If a community effect helped thousands of teachers overcome their fear of technology and brought innovative ideas into classrooms all around North America, the same principles of a community-led learning can help any organisation breed innovation.

If you struggle to innovate, create a community platform where diverse people can connect and share.

Ways to connect people in a real world

Last weekend we applied the same method and brought diverse people together for 54 hours of brainstorming and making. The first ever education technology hackathon in Ireland (Startup Weekend Education) aimed to solve problems in education by connecting educators, entrepreneurs and technologists.

Amazing things happen when diverse people meet in one room. As organisers, we were impressed by the quality and diversity of ideas. ‘Education’ became a synonym for lifelong learning, questioning how we want to learn today and tomorrow.

7 learning technology startups were formed during 54 hours out of 15 ideas pitched on Friday:

7 ideas came out from 54 hours brainstorming to solve problems for human resources managers at organisations, parents homeschooling their kids, girls learning to code, parents connecting with teachers and kids learning by doing with arduino.

Join Community for Lifelong Learners

They say education is hard to change. Education as any other institution needs more interaction between people with diverse skills.

I can’t wait to see what the seven new edtech startups will bring to the education ecosystem in the next few months; to make it easier to bring innovative ideas into education we launched a new community – Learning Technology Ireland. We’re growing fast, so join us.

How are you innovating in your organisation? I’d love to hear.

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