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To say an emergency shift to remote instruction is formative for innovation is an understatement. Who among us hasn’t adopted a new tool that now seems second nature, learned a technology just a few minutes before teaching with it, pulled a creative muscle while planning engagement strategies, or fumbled audio and vowed to never again join a synchronous session without earbuds? We’ve learned a lot about innovative practices and methods this past year. 

How can we leverage the lessons learned for better design and implementation in a flex-ED world? We think the best place to start is at the beginning.

Deconstructing Innovation

Find three random co-workers, family members, or random people in your next Zoom room and ask them to define the term “innovation” without thinking too deeply. What might be the first things that come to mind? For many, adjectives such as: “new,” “exciting,” or “different” probably come to mind. While these terms are not completely wrong, they also aren’t completely right. 

Innovation is not just adopting new tools and technologies. Nor is it just changing the ways we teach or approach a problem/solution. Innovation really has more to do with creating new value or capturing value in new or different ways. In order to apply innovation to our teaching and learning communities we must define – or perhaps redefine – value.

What is the value of a new method or practice? A new technology? What is the value to all its users: facilitators and participants? What are the short-term benefits and lasting results? Does it foster curiosity, engagement, and learning? Does it promote a love for learning? What are the costs that decrease a perceived value? What is the value of (fill in the blank) for this particular practice or that specific learning object …?  

Evaluating Value

Last year, the Innovation Studio explored the use of story and storytelling to add value to educational design by creating authenticity and trust. This year we will expand upon that work and take a deeper dive into identifying value and weighing what that value might look like to different users. As always, our work is grounded in Design Thinking so we will spend time together in both problem solution spaces.

Check out our work on storytelling

Check out this year’s Innovation Studio



Innovation Studio Guides

Daniel Trego

Daniel Trego, Innovation Studio Co-Chair

Daniel is an Educational Media & Design Specialist at Michigan State University. He works with students and faculty to design effective media for teaching and learning and is passionate about storytelling with a focus on empowering others to create and share their own experiences. 

Cheryl Fulghum

Cheryl Fulghum, Innovation Studio Co-Chair

Cheryl is an Instructional Design and Online Learning coordinator at Haywood Community College in western North Carolina. A self-confessed technology junkie and faculty flunky, she spends much of her time seeking appropriate technologies to meet disclosed faculty needs. She believes innovation is the result of collaboration and collaboration happens through positive working relationships.


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