Innovation – Everyone Says It’s the Answer

“Innovation — Everyone Says It’s the Answer, but Is It What Colleges Need?” is the title of a recent article by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Innovation as a vision, it turns out, may not be so innovative after all!

Reporting on a panel discussion hosted by The New America Foundation and featuring Charles L. Isbell, Jr. (Senior Associate Dean in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology), Bridget Burns (Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance), and Amy Laitinin (director of higher-education policy at The New America Foundation), Carlson captures several of the key pressures for innovation, in addition to the possible negative repercussions.

Colleges and universities, though, are not necessarily in the driver’s seat, as Carlson reports:

Actually, the panelists pointed out, it might not be entirely colleges’ problem. Too many of the incentives around higher education, they said, focus on inputs — more applicants, more students, the time those students spend in class — rather than outcomes, like graduation rates or the jobs students get after college. And that focus applies to the innovation conversation as well.

With incentives focused on inputs and the new, the innovation agenda exists in tension with the important outcomes assessment conversations within colleges and universities.

Carlson’s article can be read in its entirety at It is behind the Chronicle‘s paywall, but many university libraries subscribe to the periodical.