Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Educators Can Learn From the Most Creative People in Business

The June issue of Fast Company profiled the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2010, including quite a bit of education-related ideas. I suppose it should come as no surprise that it’s the most creative people that are solving problems that

#7 Chris Anderson, Curator, TED Conferences – If you haven’t heard of these, or are unaware of their mind-blowing educational content, I suggest that you climb out from under your rock.

#37, Jamie Oliver, Chef – Oliver isn’t worried about crowning the next Food Network star or opening an expensive foodie haven in some trendy location. He just wants to stop poor eating habits and obesity in America. No big deal, right?  The child nutrition administrators in every district in the country need to track down and watch his complete Food Revolution miniseries (watch clips on

#43, Mark Covey, Simulations Director for the Joint Training Counter-IED Operations Center, Department of Defense – Covey is pioneering the use of realistic, video game-like simulations to prepare soldiers for combat. While there’s plenty of experiments in immersive, educational video games going on around the country, we’re way behind where we need to be in terms of widespread use and acceptance.  The kicker?  The technology is already out there.

#47 Carol Twigg, President & CEO, National Center for Academic Transformation – Twigg is showing universities how to lower the cost of higher education, which is good. Unfortunately, some schools see this as a way to reduce expenses without cutting the cost for students.

#48, Todd Park, CTO, Department of Health and Human Services – Like Jamie Oliver, Park is tackling public health issues. His weapon of choice is apps and games that tap into the vast wealth of information his department keeps. I’d love to see other government entities trying the same thing (not to mention university researchers).

#51 Corinna Lathan, Cofounder, CEO, AnthroTronix – Her company’s robots do everything from bomb disposal to helping kids in physical therapy. The lesson here is that there are possibilities for helping kids everywhere, if you're looking for them (something I write about in my upcoming book, Teaching is Not a Four Letter Word: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Job).

#62 Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, Cofounder, Singularity University – Kurzweil's brainchild has long been a bellwether of where higher education is really going.  Say goodbye to colleges; people will be building their own education using easily available online resources (most free, unlike this example) and start solving the world's problems, whether or not they get a degree for their efforts.

#67, Stacey Simmons, Founder, Omnicademy – Simmons has is tapping into the idea of online courses for college, but making sure students actually get credits at their regular brick and mortar school.  She's taking the open-source university idea and weaving it into the fabric of the traditional system, and I have no doubt she'll be very, very successful.

#84, Avner Ronen, CEO & Cofounder, Boxee – Boxee a bridge between all the video and other media on the Internet and your TV. I feel like this is a breakthrough for the classroom, making sharing media with your students very, very easy.  Unfortunately this isn't the way most school and district leaders think.

#87 Patrick Awuah, President, Cofounder, Ashesi University College - Awuah took what he learned in the U.S. and built a school based on critical thinking and ethics in Ghana.  Wait, there's a school in America that actually teaches critical thinking and ethics?

#93, Phoenix Wang, Cofounder, Startl – Startl provides start-up capital for educational entrepreneurs.  Need I say more?

So many great ideas here, and there were certainly more if you are willing to think outside the box a little more.  I hope you're listening.