I have been thinking about innovation for a while. What does innovation mean to you? How does “innovation” play into your world of work and learning? The word INNOVATE feels very much like a buzzword when it comes to learning. It may even be as a prime contender found on one of my #edtech bingo cards used for education meetings and conferences. Now the word, innovate, has been placed as a conference title and I agreed to support the planning for this event => Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate. These facts only means I have been reading and reflecting even more about innovation and what this term means. Here are my current ponderings and ideas…
Flickr photo c/o Missy Scmidt
A number of organizations are increasingly being influenced or impacted the eagerness to “solve” problems with technology. Last year, George Steele suggested the book, The Innovators, in a conversation about the culture of change in higher education (a HUGE topic I will save for another blog post). This was a well-timed referral and read for me. Isaacson (2014) describes how groups of individuals ingeniously cooperated to innovate in the real world. Say what? Tell me more!
Thinking, designing, and employing innovation for learning is complicated. The story of the collective successes (and failures) of many innovators need to be shared, and continually drafted as there are “far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding…how today’s technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting” (Isaacson, 2014, p. 1)
Although The Innovators shares the history of computing, technology, and the Internet, and it really spoke to my inner collaborator and WHY I dabble in the applied inquiry to understand more about online/blended learning technologies and workplace L & D. The collaboration emphasis resonated throughout this text, and I do believe that “no one individual…has truly achieved anything alone.” I concur.
By definition, we always appear to be “innovating” in learning, right? With formal education institutions (K-12 and higher education), professional associations, and learning organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas or approaches due to structural, pedagogical, and workforce challenges in the real world. We want to think innovatively, but sometimes our organizations or “the system” rarely allows this process to unfold with constrictions of our job portfolios/functions, institutional divides, or designated project timelines. As Martin Weller put aptly put it: “the rhetoric for the need for innovation is rarely backed up by practice that will encourage it.” Let’s change that narrative. Why don’t we try to play with a few innovative ideas and concepts together?
For OLC Innovate, there are a few new (I won’t say innovative, just yet) program features that are atypical of a traditional conference format. One of the goals the#OLCInnovate steering committee set out: Let’s have less “talking head” presentations (education sessions, lectures or plenary talks), and more conversations, fun social happenings, places to share, and opportunities to solve REAL problems for online/blended/F2F learning. <
The general call for program proposals is now closed (with the peer reviews completed, expect to see the full program online next week); however the call for TEAM Proposals is OPEN for the OLC SDS until February 5, 2016. Thanks to the 2015 #et4online unconference banter, the OLC SDS Team (Mike Goudzwaard, Patrice Torcivia, Kyle Johnson, & Michael Atkisson) decided it was about time to offer a program feature that was less about product and more about process. Together we carved out space in the#OLCInnovate schedule to offer a space for design thinkers, tinkers, and leaders to assemble in order to propose and solve challenges we encounter in learning (in K-12, higher education, and industry-L & D), such as:
- Personalized and Adaptive Learning
- Professional Learning and Development
- Impact of Open Learning
- Choose Your Own Learning Challenge
As we know innovation takes time and it is a team process. For this CFP we have a broader timeline for this program and we and different expectations for this call for submissions. We are not looking for an end solution. Our team is more interested in WHO is at your interdisciplinary team table and the potential problems you want to work on together. Solutions might appear, but regardless this will be shared opening before, during, and after the #OLCInnovate 2016 conference ends:
- Prospective SDS participants submit a challenge proposal by February 5, 2016: Abstract about the problem, team, and potential solution.
- Acceptance notifications will be sent out to teams by February 12th.
- Those SDS teams with accepted challenges will submit a solution pitch video for public review on the OLC Innovate 2016 website, by March 11, 2016.
- Experts and OLC Innovate attendees will be invited to view and comment online to provide feedback on the video pitches March 21 – April 1.
- SDS teams will meet via an online web conference for 30 minutes to debrief and plan before the with the SDS facilitators in early April, before the #OLCInnovate Conference.
- SDS teams participate in a two-part pre-conference workshop session the morning of April 20, 2016. This will involve sharing the challenge and potential solution.
- Building on the feedback from the pitch reviews before, the design-thinking workshop on day 1, and comments from the workshop (via educators, edtech experts, researchers, exhibitors, and other SDS teams), you will further develop your challenge statement and solution design “pitch” to present during a concurrent session.
- SDS teams will present their solution in a 15-minute (10-minute presentation & 5 minute Q & A) time slot during an OLC Innovate session for all conference attendees.
- The winning SDS team members will each receive a one-year OLC Professional Membership (limited to a maximum of 5 team members). Current OLC members would receive a 1-year extension to their existing OLC Professional Membership.
- The winning SDS team members will receive complimentary future OLC 2016 or 2017 conference registration (limited to a a maximum of 5 team members, not applicable to OLC Innovate 2016).
- The OLC Team will engage the winning team in a conversation of how best to showcase their solution through OLC. Examples may include a webinar, membership dashboard interaction, OLC social media promotion, etc.
Now that you know the details, I encourage and instigate ALL of you to REVIEW the Solution Design Summit CFP and SUBMIT your team application NOW! Please feel free to share with your colleagues, and instigate innovation among your peers as well. Do you have questions about the OLC SDS? Email our team: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow up with either Mike or me. Thanks!
Isaacson, W. (2014). The innovators: How a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
About the Author
Laura A. Pasquini, Ph.D. in Workplace Learning & Performance . Lecturer with the Department of Learning Technologies,@UNTCOI . Researcher @RoyalRoads. Former @LPQuarterly Editor. On@NACADA Council. Focus:#edusocmedia, #edtech, organizational culture & online communities of practice .