ASB Innovation Academy: “What is innovative Learning?” and Other Questions Answered

In his effort to further aid Williston School District #7 in its mission of providing adequate education for its increasing student population, the district's newest Superintendent, Dr. Richard Faidley, proposed a drastic and highly controversial plan to revamp the new ASB Innovation Academy – only three years after its opening. This revolutionary facility helped introduce and pioneer innovative learning techniques in Williston. Since his initial proposal, he’s held several meetings with the community looking for input on the middle school campus to help alleviate overcrowding in classrooms. Many in the community still need to learn more about what ASB Innovation Academy stands for and how it can improve classroom educational standards. To help answer this question, let us explore the ASB Innovation Academy and innovation learning further.

What is innovation learning? 

The innovation learning model is a relatively new educational approach emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and experiential learning. This model seeks to help students develop the skills and mindsets necessary to create and implement innovative solutions to real-world problems.

The innovation learning model is based on a few fundamental principles. First and foremost, it emphasizes the importance of experiential learning. Students are encouraged to learn by doing rather than simply memorizing theoretical concepts. This approach helps students develop problem-solving skills and gain hands-on experience in their fields of interest.


Another fundamental principle of the innovation learning model is collaboration. Students work together in teams to tackle complex problems and create innovative solutions. This collaborative approach helps students learn from one another and develop essential interpersonal and communication skills.

Innovation learning also places a strong emphasis on creativity. Rather than simply regurgitating information, students are encouraged to explore new ideas and think outside the box. This approach helps build a culture of innovation and fosters a sense of entrepreneurship among students.

The innovation learning model is particularly well-suited to the needs of today's rapidly changing world. In the past, students trained for specific jobs or professions, and their education was focused primarily on acquiring technical skills. However, as the world becomes more complex and interconnected, there is a growing need for individuals who can think creatively, work collaboratively, and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.

Innovation learning helps prepare students for this new reality by assisting them in developing the skills and mindsets necessary to thrive in an innovation-driven economy. By focusing on experiential learning, collaboration, and creativity, this model empowers students to actively shape their own learning while empowering them to become agents of change in their communities and beyond.

What is different about an Innovative learning facility? 

While a designated learning facility can undoubtedly enhance the innovation learning experience, it is not necessarily required. Innovation learning focuses more on the educational approach than the physical space where learning occurs.

Innovation learning often incorporates hands-on, project-based learning experiences that can take place in a variety of environments, from traditional classrooms to makerspaces, innovation labs, or even virtual environments. One of the benefits of innovation learning is that it can be adapted and implemented in various educational settings, including K-12 schools, community centers, and higher education institutions.

However, having access to specific tools and resources can undoubtedly enhance the innovation learning experience. For example, like similarly equipped facilities, ASB Innovation Academy is equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools that help facilitate hands-on, project-based learning experiences central to the innovation learning model. Additionally, digital tools and technologies such as online collaboration tools, virtual reality, and simulations can provide students with unique and engaging learning experiences.

While a designated facility can enhance the innovation learning experience, it is not necessarily required. Innovation learning is more about adopting a new educational approach emphasizing creativity, experiential learning, and collaboration.


Do students who learn through innovation score higher than those who use traditional education techniques?

There is no simple answer to whether students who learn through innovation learning score consistently higher than those who learn using traditional education techniques. Research in this area is still relatively new and varied, so it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

Some studies suggest that innovation learning can lead to improved academic outcomes. However, other research suggests that the relationship between innovation learning and academic outcomes is more complex. While evidence indicates that innovation learning can lead to improved academic outcomes, the relationship between innovation learning and academic achievement is complicated and depends on various factors. It is important to note that innovation learning is not solely focused on academic outcomes but also aims to develop the student's creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills that will prepare them for the ever-changing workforce.

What do opponents of innovation learning say?

Opponents of innovation learning argue that this approach to education is often too focused on process and creativity and needs more on content mastery. They argue that innovation learning can result in students lacking fundamental knowledge and skills in formal academic studies.

Some critics argue that innovation learning is not well-suited for all students, particularly those who struggle with problem-solving, creativity, or interpersonal skills. Critics also say that the emphasis on group work and collaboration in innovation learning can sometimes result in students relying too heavily on their peers rather than developing their own independent problem-solving skills.

Finally, some opponents of innovation learning argue that it is too difficult to measure or assess the effectiveness of this approach to education, particularly in terms of traditional academic outcomes such as test scores and grades. Critics argue that this can make it challenging to determine whether innovation learning is truly effective or a trendy new educational approach that will eventually fall out of favor. 

However, it is important to note that many of these criticisms of innovation learning are based on theoretical concerns rather than empirical evidence. Much remains to be learned about the potential benefits and drawbacks of this approach to education, and ongoing research will be necessary to understand its effectiveness fully.


How do students of innovation learning rate the experience?

Overall, students who have experienced innovation learning tend to rate the experience highly. They often report feeling more engaged and motivated in their learning and appreciate the emphasis on creativity, collaboration, and hands-on learning experiences.

Many students appreciate the opportunity to work on real-world projects and see their efforts' results firsthand. They also appreciate the chance to work in diverse teams and to develop skills such as communication, leadership, and adaptability.

Overall, while innovation learning may have some challenges and drawbacks, students who have experienced it tend to rate the experience highly and appreciate the emphasis on experiential learning, collaboration, and creativity.



ASB Innovation Academy…


…Is a private school for elite, talented, and gifted students.


FALSE. The Innovation Academy is part of the Williston Basin Public School District, open to all students regardless of grades, test scores, or economic background. 


…is owned and operated by American State Bank & Trust Company.

FALSE. The ASB Innovation Academy is a public school funded partly by private community donors. American State Bank & Trust is one such donor. During fundraising, ASB offered $500,000 to Williston Public Schools for the school's building, resulting in the school carrying the bank's name. 


…requires a special application for enrollment.

FALSE. When parents register their children for school, there is a section on the registration in which they indicate whether they want their child to be entered in the lottery to attend the school.  Students who select "Yes" and complete registration by the May deadline are entered into a lottery for enrollment and are randomly chosen to attend. 


NOTE: According to their website, ASB Innovation Academy does offer acceptance preferences to any current students attending ASB Innovation Academy and students of Innovation Academy employees.


… educators were cherry-picked by school administrators.

FALSE. Teachers who piloted the program visited Arizona schools on a site visit and developed the plan with former superintendent Dr. Thake. Those teachers were given an opportunity to apply for a transfer, and additional teachers were encouraged to apply. Applicants were interviewed and selected based on qualifications and background. Those teachers hired were offered innovation training. 


…curriculum is unique and doesn't follow Federal and State education guidelines and standards.

FALSE. The innovation curriculum meets all state and federal education standards. 


ASB Innovation Academy is the only school offering innovation learning curriculum.

FALSE. There are many terrific innovative things going on across the district. Several schools and teachers offer curriculum which has been adapted to include innovative educational practices.


Comment online and tell us in the comments section what you think about the superintendent's plan to dismantle the Academy to solve facility shortages. 

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