MLinsights_JULY2020

Innovation and creativity in education

Winston Churchill is credited with the famous quote, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This week, when observing the many varied, rich and meaningful learning opportunities undertaken across the School, I was struck by how our educators have innovated so effectively in order to maintain a sense of community, and the integrity of our curricular and co-curricular experiences despite the move to Distance Learning.

One of the international conglomerates that has actually seen increased business during the COVID 19 emergency has been Netflix. It seems that now, more than ever before, online catch ups include mandatory inquiries about recommended Netflix series. Netflix, however, has a fascinating story of innovation that led it to be the juggernaut that it is today.

Netflix was founded in 1997 as a mail-order DVD rental service. At the time it aimed to provide subscribers with the convenience of not having to go into the DVD library and did away with late fines. Its membership steadily grew and by 2007 Netflix started experimenting with some streamed content as it seemed likely that DVD technology might be superseded as a result of increasing internet speeds.

It was at this point that the company’s leaders made a bold decision. They decided to throw all their efforts and revenue into developing the streaming platform. At the time, this was considered by many to be a crazy choice. Management’s decision to refrain from continued investing into their highest revenue stream, mail subscriptions, was seen as business suicide. However, they held firm and instead pivoted to innovating in an area where they had limited expertise. The bulk of their staff at the time were essentially involved in supply and shipping.

In 2010, Netflix launched its first streaming only plans. The shift of focus proved to be a tremendous success and the business developed rapidly. Not satisfied that the mission was complete, Netflix’s leadership turned their attention to the high cost of accessing content. As such, they decided on another innovation and began producing their own content. They recognised that their incredibly rapid transformation from a logistics business to a production studio would require acquisition of a skillset that was missing.

Therefore, they decided to apply a new model of payment for creatives with significant up-front payments to counter the fact that there would be no ticket sales at cinemas. This made them very popular to work for and the production side of the business took off. They are now one of the world’s largest content producers and they produce an extraordinary number of films and television series annually.

Netflix today has over 182 million paying subscribers internationally and has a current net worth of approximately $270 Billion. The bravery of the company to take calculated risks and to innovate has paid enormous dividends.

While we are not Netflix, KDS has always been keen to innovate. This is paying dividends now when we have been forced out of our comfort zone and our staff have been finding new ways to deliver learning experiences, alongside their usual care and warmth.

This was particularly evident this week with our engaging and creative Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations. The Junior and Senior Jewish Life pages were filled with awesome, fun and meaningful content. Students could participate in cooking challenges, virtual dances, online quizzes, a talent show and a virtual party. Our staff found novel ways to ensure that the ‘ruach’ and ‘kef’ that characterise the day were still present. This culture of innovation was also apparent, this Thursday, when we launched our Drive-Through-Library out of the Junior School carpark.

The COVID 19 crisis has forced us all to retreat into our homes and to be cut off from friends, family and colleagues. It continues to be a difficult time for all of us. That said, I am forever grateful to our wonderful staff who apply their spirit and creativity to ensure that our students are maintaining their connections to their community and are continuing to learn.