Arguably one of the greatest terms in the entire English lexicon is “educational innovation.” It has an air of open-mindedness that elicits boundless creativity. Educational innovation means both doing something new with often ambiguous qualities of process and method.
Innovative learning and innovative teaching mean learning and teaching in new ways but through endlessly varied methods. In reality, educators and students often believe that being innovative means you must use technology (here, technology is defined as devices, software, hardware etc.). However, it is crucial that best practice in educational innovation be malleable in process and method. Being open-minded and fluid with process and method will propel educators and students to experiment with various methods to find the right choice – with or without technology.
For example, students creating videos to show their learning might start by making a storyboard. Storyboarding is an age old method to map out movies and can be developed with either online tools or using paper and pencil. We often assume that if a digital tool is available, that it must be better than using a more traditional method such as paper and pencil. However, when tested with students, the more efficient method that allows for greater creativity is storyboarding on paper with pencil. The filming, editing, and final production of a movie require a variety of technology; however, the initial stage of brainstorming and mapping is better done without technology. This is only known because educators and students were open to testing and experimenting methods of teaching/learning with and without technology.
The example above is just one of many examples of how “educational innovation” is often viewed as simply applying technology to all parts of the teaching/learning process. It is crucial that we help both teachers and students develop the ability to critically discern the best strategy for educational innovation from a range of available options.
Here are two initial starting points that administrators and educational technologists can use to inspire educational innovation and, in turn, develop the skill of critical discernment within their students:
- Share the equation for educational innovation with both colleagues and students, and make it a focal point of discussion.
- Create opportunities for colleagues and students to share examples of educational innovation with and without technology.
- What worked and what didn’t work?
- What other methods and processes could/should be tested?
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