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What We Can Learn from the 8 of the Most Innovative Schools in the World

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As one of Madison's Most Innovative Companies (Madison, WI, USA), we continue to work hard to drive innovation into our community and around the world to help make life easier for schools, businesses and families. Not just through the work we do, but in our support and recognition of other innovators.

Innovation isn't just related to business. It's also something that educators strive to achieve. Thinking outside the box in education is about more than deploying cutting-edge technology. Learning in real-world environments, collaboration with the community, and rejecting social norms are also methods of innovation in education and the classroom.[i]

There are probably as many innovative ideas and strategies as there are schools. But creative learning centers with successful students seem to share a set of common characteristics in addition to daring to do what's never been done before. Within the most innovative schools: 

  • Students are put at the center of their learning, empowered to be co-creators of their school experience;
  • Teachers are dedicated mentors supporting personalized learning experiences that meet individual student needs; and
  • Both students and teachers are given the resources they need to transform ideas into realities

Here are eight of the most innovative schools around the globe that caught our attention, and we'd like to recognize each of them for their unique approaches to teaching and learning.

The foundation of the De VerWondering educational approach is based on its name, which translates to "a sense of wonder." This school wants students to learn by trying, experimenting, researching and asking questions. Skills such as problem-solving, social skills, collaboration, creativity, communication, information and communication technology (ICT) literacy and lifelong learning are given the same importance as reading and math.

An Ashoka Changemaker school, it has been identified for a strong focus on the possibilities that technological advancements in the classroom have to offer. "Students at De Verwondering learn by means of their personalized learning tracks and develop their social and emotional skills through value-based curricula and a strong sense of community. This school nurtures future leaders who will not only be able to manage themselves in an ever-changing world, but will do so with empathy."

Frenship ISD's mission is to educate and develop all students by providing a foundation to empower them to reach their maximum potential and realize their opportunity of choice. The district is known for putting students first, allowing them to reach their potential. Never has that been more true than during the COVID-19 crisis. Regardless of what the future holds in terms of accommodating remote learning, in-person classes when schools reopen or a blended model of the two, Frenship is ready.

  • The Frenship ISD Technology Department has set up WiFi hotspot locations at different campuses for students without internet access. Students and staff can drive to a campus parking lot, stay in their vehicle, and connect to the WiFi, using their Frenship logins for faster internet connection.
  • The district wisely invested in multiple FUYL Towers + Cloud. These cloud-based smart lockers pivot quickly and easily to support Break/Fix, Loaner Devices and On-Demand Charging for student and teacher devices regardless of the learning scenario.

Voted the Greenest School on Earth by the Centre for Green Schools, the Green School is a model for sustainability and a center for experimentation, innovation and solutions. Instead of seeing nature as a distraction, educators at this school believe that a constant connection to the environment has a positive effect on problem-solving and intelligence.

A 'living' curriculum educates for sustainability through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning, in a wall-less natural environment. "We strive to champion a new model of education that nurtures the whole child, giving them agency in their own lives and learning, so that they can thrive with purpose."

This grammar school was awarded the 2017 delina Bitkom innovation prize for its digital education concept. The Bitkom jury was impressed by the way the school pivoted and revised its digital education program to meet the needs of students and teachers better. 

To offer students a media education appropriate to the 21st century, Würselen has intensively dealt with the use of technology in the classroom. In 2008, they introduced "laptop classes." Due to conceptual errors, the project was unsuccessful. The issues were analyzed, and a new approach was taken, resulting in a fresh start with iPads rolled out in the 2015 school year. Along with the deployment of tablets, the learning process for each student was individualized. Also, the creation of an extensive range of help for teachers through regular in-house training courses has led to this program's award-winning success.

This institute has distinguished itself for its dedication to change and digitalization, for inventive teaching methods, and creativity. The classes disposed of student's chairs. In their place are mobile desks and a flexible, dynamic and collaborative learning environment.

As the first school to use the Oculus Rift virtual reality system, Majorana has put modern ideas and technology at the center of education. The school was also ahead of time in delivering lessons via streaming. According to Studenti, long before the recent lockdowns, students have been able to follow lessons in real-time from home. "But, if they wanted, they could also follow them in streaming, since the teachers record the video lessons and they attach them to virtual classes."

LIS dispels with the common idea of single-subject study at university. Instead, students learn how to combine knowledge through different disciplines to find solutions to real-world challenges and problems. "Learning doesn't fit into neat little boxes - and neither does life," argues school co-founder Ed Fidoe.[ii] "The world is more connected and complex than it's ever been and it requires people to think in systems rather than narrow silos."[iii]

This interdisciplinary program investigates shared problems with new ways of thinking and understanding. At LIS, students graduate feeling empowered to go out in the world and make an impact. Study is done through the lens of tackling problems such as malaria, childhood obesity, and the knife crime epidemic.

Founded in 2003, teachers at this network of public schools guide students through a self-directed learning cycle, using and technology to empower students to map their own journey. "At Summit, students unlock the power within themselves to gain the knowledge, habits, and skills to successfully navigate college and careers."

Educators at Summit Schools believe that every child is capable of college and career success, and focuses on real-world projects. The results speak for themselves with a 98% acceptance rate into a 4-year college and 2x the national average for college graduation.

One of the largest vocational education and training provider in Australia, with over 70,000 enrolled students and 34 campuses. TAFE SA is one of the leaders in Australia for its trade department.

TAFE SA recently deployed virtual reality headsets to aid education for their Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing Courses. Students have a 1:1 approach with VR headsets that allows them to explore and experience high-risk areas they would not ordinarily see as apprentices.

VR technology also allows students who are training in hazardous jobs to perform tasks without exposure to hazardous high-risk environments. Furthermore, mobility of technology provides accessibility to world-class facilities and training for remote students without the burden of traveling or relocating. This hands-on approach with VR technology is also transferable to rehabilitation clinics, other education providers, and the workplace. VR is transforming education, and it's only a matter of time before pilot trials such as the one at TAFE SA will begin to trickle into different sectors.

Ready to find out more?

Over the past 20 years, the needs of teachers and students have guided the innovative designs of our mobile device charging carts and stations to relieve pain points that are specific to challenges in education. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member today to get a closer look at how our products can support your school's unique approach to teaching and learning.

Sources:

[i] Top World’s Most Innovative Schools – The Engineering Projects (TEP)

[ii] The new university for polymaths – i newspaper

[iii] This is the UK’s most innovative, one-of-a-kind university – Study International

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