Innovation Or Creativity? What’s the Difference?  

Guest post by Kathleen Fox- ImaginGO Team 

Often, teachers clump innovation with creativity, but understanding the difference between the two skills is paramount for teachers to successfully teach and measure students for both skills.

Innovation can be measured in outcomes – a new idea that results in a tangible product or idea.

Creativity doesn’t have to result in measurable outcomes.  

Basically, creativity “contributes” to innovation. Without creativity, you won’t have innovation. 

Need a more concrete example?

Innovation is quantifiable, action-driven, and involves risk. Say a student created a new sneaker that allowed a wearer to jump higher and run faster. The innovative part of the sneaker could be measured to show improved height and speed for the sneaker wearer. 

Creativity is intangible, subjective, involves less risk, and typically results in a “concept” only. Using that same sneaker example for creativity, a student might have the creative idea to use bird-like wings to jump higher or a micro rocket booster to make a wearer run faster. Creativity allows students the freedom to explore beyond boundaries before they apply more critical thinking. Innovation happens at that “what if” moment where unlimited creativity collides with logic.

A little bit more… 

Here’s the kicker, not all innovation is what we think of as being “creative.”  But it is. Much of our innovation stems from solving a problem, filling a gap, or improving on something that already exists. A person who is creative or has learned to be creative (yes, it can be learned!) is typically more apt to twist, bend, or stretch an idea in order to create fresh, new ideas.

If you look at the last few decades of innovation, much has been in technology, medicine, and communication. Those industries realize it’s essential to have creative thinkers on their teams to grow and produce new ideas, before the ideas are handed off to be developed and then measured for their innovative outcomes. Basically, they need each other to succeed. Like Ernie and Bert, peanut butter and jelly, or cut and paste.

Creativity in education…

As teachers, we are constantly measuring our students, and to some degree, ourselves. Every standard, every lesson, every moment seems to need a measurable outcome—from spelling quizzes to STEM lab exploration, to state-wide testing, to choir performances—we give a score, equate a grade, and figure the percentile of success in comparison to others.

There is an absolute need for measurable outcomes in education, but there is also ample room to weave creativity into the daily curriculum. When you do, learning becomes balanced. 

Both innovation and creativity require new ideas and concepts, as well as a willingness to take risks. Both drive change. And both will help your students succeed now and well into the future. We should all remember that without creativity and creative thinkers, there will be no innovation. 

Kathleen Fox is the co-creator of ImaginGO. A former public school teacher, school librarian, and director of her own school. Kathleen authored two children’s books, dozens of educational games, and professional development books for teachers. You can reach her at 

About Rdene915

Rachelle Dené Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Educator at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant, Speaker, and the Author of seven books about education and edtech. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @Rdene915

I am available for PD sessions in-person and virtually on a variety of topics. Key focus areas are AI, ChatGPT, AR and VR, SEL, and STEM.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at

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