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Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace. Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running. Einstein once said that if he had 60 minutes to solve a problem, he'd spend the first 55 thinking about the problem, and the next 5 solving it. The purpose of "school" is to ultimately prepare students for the workforce in the real world. Regardless of the decisions that are made in Washington, the 21st Century Skills Movement can still be achieved by leaders in education. In some circles there are those who still (13 years into the 21st century!) resist the notion that learning in the 21st century is any different than it has ever been. Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. During my high school education in the 1980s, I was rarely, if ever!, asked to do anything creative outside of art class. Today, I watch students create in ways that weren’t even part of my way of knowing in 1985. Through the development of student creativity and innovation, learners in the 21st century are able to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and the connections that they are making through a variety of medium. Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. All of the communication that I was expected to do in high school was generally between me and my teachers. As a 21st century learner, the any time, anywhere possibility of communication and collaboration has made me a better learner and, thus, a better teacher. Remember spending hours in the university library stacks poring over volumes of bound and printed texts?
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. This is arguably the skill that will carry students forward to success in an unknown future. Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.


Digital citizenship carries an additional layer beyond character education as the many facets of the digital world create new and complex learning environments and communities that have a feel much different than the face-to-face world. Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. I also feel that educators have to be very careful not to perpetuate the stereotype that students have a deep understanding of technology. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented.
As a Career and Technology Education teacher, I honestly feel that the American Public Education System is not effectively preparing our students for the 21st century workplace. The six domains serve to develop skills that will prepare learners for an unpredictable future. I can specifically recall once in my sophomore English class an assignment to create a book cover for an Agatha Christie novel we had read as a class. Students who can draw amazing stick people on a good day are not limited by only one or two options to express themselves.
Of course, that was after the hours spent at the computer terminal gathering a list of titles that might provide the information your research topic required. Honestly, the 1980s really didn’t offer up a lot of educational simulation opportunities where decisions needed to be made. How students choose to represent themselves in a digital format feels very different than how they actually behave in real life. There is currently too much emphasis on content knowledge, and not enough on workplace readiness skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and innovation.
As a learner who has learned (and taught) in both the 20th and the 21st centuries, I am a firm believer that, even though some aspects of learning haven’t changed, the changes that have occurred are significant and cannot be ignored. These skills can serve individuals in the careers that we know exist today, but are transdisciplinary in nature and can be applied to those careers that are yet unknown.
I remember my teacher raving about mine in front of the class because rather than try to draw something, I had glued on the pieces of an old makeup compact that was somehow connected with the plot. Those who can draw and write creatively have an audience beyond their sketchbooks and diaries. Much of my research involved French language, literature, and culture while I was at universities in Michigan and Wisconsin pre-internet. However, people who participated in role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons created problem solving and decision making contexts for themselves.
As iPad technology is integrated into classes to support learning and creativity, students and parents begin to understand that the iPad is something more than a fun device only for gaming.


This requires school administration to understand and communicate the role of the standards.
The International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology for Students (NET*S) standards have been established to address the needs of the 21st century learner. During my teenage years in high school, creativity was somewhat limited to construction paper, Elmer’s glue, and colored pencils.
For my 15 year old son, the physical act of putting pen to paper is a slow and tedious experience as the small motor skills required for penmanship don’t really result in anything that resembles legible adult handwriting. And, consequently, students can make self-guided decisions about how to use technology to support their own learning. Parents should be encouraged to develop and awareness of how these standards support the growth of digital learning.
As a result creativity essentially belonged to those who could draw and write short stories and poetry. I needed to memorize historical dates and events for tests and grammatical rules in order to diagram sentences.
I am not limited by the thoughts of 15 individuals (whose background is a lot like mine) in a classroom on a university campus on Wednesday nights. In order to ensure that the NET*S are being met, it is vital for a school to have a purposeful plan for implementation.
If pen and paper were his only option, I doubt he would be motivated to pursue and develop his passion for writing.
I communicate with my virtual classmates and collaborators who are diverse learners scattered all over the globe. Ideally a school would create a skills continuum based on the National Educational Technology Standards to guide a developmentally appropriate approach to integration. I’ve seen students in my English classes who are challenged by the writing process communicate their deep thinking through a video montage or a computer generated graphic.
French class is about the only place I remember any type of communication and collaboration.
Pairing up with a classmate and writing a dialogue to perform for the class was (and still is) a common occurrence in second language classes.



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