“Education is integral to the story we now tell of global competitiveness through innovation. But innovation still has an uncertain place within education” (Bentley & Gillinson, 2007, p. 4).
Over the European summer British researchers produced several interesting reports on innovation in education. One of them:
- Bentley, T., & Gillinson, S. (2007). A D&R system for education. UK: Innovation unit. URL.
More ideas and citations from this report are in the blog.
Main features of effective innovation systemsCore functions of effective innovation systems:
- Identifying opportunities.
- Creating new knowledge and capabilities.
- Creating new organisations and forms of production.
- Managing risk.
- Creating essential infrastructures.
Four essential assumptions about the potential and new sources for innovations:
- New ideas, research breakthroughs and applications could arise anywhere across a sector, not just within the boundaries of a formal R&D programme.
- Users are also creators and take on an integral and direct role in developing, validating and disseminating innovations.
- Design and development, not basic research, are the main drivers of innovations in some economy domains.
- Knowledge-sharing platforms, processes and networks are needed to involve users and harness this potential.
Understanding present innovation system in education
“The current approach is an uncomfortable hybrid: it invests in long term research but is not always clear about the translation from basic to applied knowledge; it initiates many linear efforts at generating new knowledge, but is weak at connecting, synthesising and disciplining what arises from them to maximise their positive applications in practice; and it encompasses many different, often over-lapping approaches to knowledge transfer, from central direction to local collaboration, but it lacks clarity on how these different approaches need to be aligned and connected at different levels of the system.“ (p. 18).
- In the traditional scientific innovation model, “better R&D is achieved by investing more in basic research and then improving the efficiency of the pipeline through which research passes to reach the market.” (p. 8)
- This model is not necessarily appropriate for education: “Developing applications, like teaching materials, that really take note of the fundamental insight, may depend heavily on user testing and development, rather than just on prototyping new educational products and bringing them to market.” (p. 9-10)
- Educational innovation is open in its nature: “Many important educational innovations are generated by users themselves, rather than derived from experimental research.” (p. 10).
- Basic research is needed to enhance our understanding about teaching and learning. Basic research supports innovation, but it is less essential than development.
- Central governing of education is an opportunity to create a a coherent system for educational innovation and scaling up: “Obligation through legislation is a tool that government has at its disposal that commercial R&D does not.” (p. 10)
Five core elements of a D&R system for education
- Future proofing – shared purpose with clear long-term system-wide priorities.
- Basic research – continuous stream of knowledge creation through rigorous autonomous basic research.
- Validation, evaluation and feedback – “In most of the history of education, validation has occurred through the control of experts and the approval of central bodies. <…> Neither the validation nor the take-up of innovation actually work like that – building the perspectives and expertise of users systematically into the rules and processes used for validation could have a dramatically positive effect.” (p. 22)
- Hubs and clusters – multiple partnerships combining benefits of central direction and market competition; and open communities of collaboration.
- Collaborative product development – user-led networks, rules for engagement, and easy and quickly available new knowledge and applications.
- Next practices and lead users – new innovation methods and knowledge, shaped by user-driven demand and innovation practices.