Taking on the complex and urgent learning challenges of the age of COVID-19, teachers, school counselors, and other education professionals were forced to become nimble and creative adopters and adapters of educational technology tools. According to Jim Diamond, head of the School of Education’s Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology program, these problem solvers and systems thinkers are displaying the same disposition toward innovation that made legends of startup founders in other industries.
In emphasizing social- over profit-driven forms of entrepreneurship, however, Diamond and his colleagues measure success in capital that is as much human as financial.
“By necessity, educators have always been entrepreneurial. So, why not help them become social entrepreneurs?” Diamond asks. “Let’s prepare them to use inclusive and value-sensitive design frameworks when they imagine new tools, so that they can help right the inequities and eliminate the exclusiveness that persist in edtech as they build humane solutions to today’s biggest educational challenges.”
To impart these next-generation skills, Diamond and School of Education colleagues Jeremy Zhang and Veena Radhakrishnan will themselves turn to technology to mint a new generation of edtech innovators. With a grant from the JHU Provost, they have launched “Social Entrepreneurship in Educational Technology,” a seven-week, self-paced, massive open online course—or MOOC—available to anyone with the ideas and the ambition to change education. Diamond plans to create a similar course within his program as the precursor to a future specialization in social entrepreneurship and educational technology.
Through these efforts, Diamond plans to harness all the passion, resourcefulness, fortitude and, yes, innovation educators have amassed in the last two years and pour it back into human-centered, mission-driven startups with real impact on education. The greatest beneficiaries, he promises, will not be the innovators themselves, but learners everywhere.