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H807 – Exploring innovation in elearning (A3-part2)

February 8, 2011

After writing down my own ideas about innovations are this findings/ideas mainly based on the resources we had to read.

The course material provided a couple guiding questions to explore the innovation in elearning, presented in the three articles.

  • What technological innovations spring to mind in the field of education?
  • Does an innovation have to be useful?
  • Is it always disruptive?
  • Does it lead to far-reaching changes in practice?
  • How does innovation come about?
  • Why do award-giving bodies value innovation?

Well, first of all I found the resources quite outdated, one was published in 2002 the two others in 2005, with one reporting from an email project in 1992. I admit that at this time emails and its use in business could be regarded as innovation, and in my department the use of emails is still regarded as ‘innovative’ and I sometimes have to convince and motivate my students to send me homework or course work via email, but all in all email is now widely used in business. However this article from Rich and Holtham (2005) described pretty good what they regard as an innovation and their definition could be still used.

Both authors claim that these innovations, the introduction of electronic mail over the UK academic network with the goal to foster effective  group work, added value to the learning process, but that innovative approaches were not universally appreciated by students. Evolutionary and revolutionary applications, awareness of new technology and willigness to make the changes characterize innovations  (Venkatraman,1991 cited in Rich and Holtham,2005). Again it amazes me that the concept of collaboration, giving students a greater ownership of learning was emphazised already at this time where at least in Germany the acquisation metaphor, with teachers as experts who deliver knowledge and with students as relative passive consumer of knowledge, was favoured.

The next article from Lück and Laurence about the Videoconferencing  was easy to read but did not brought to many new insights. Probably I did not read the article thoroughly enough but I do not find real claims the authors make with regard to the novelty or innovative character of their videoconferencing trial. They mention a couple of time that videoconferencing safes money, because experts do not have to travel to lecturer in front of a class,  but can be ‘invited’ via videoconference. The technology they used ‘Bridgit and ConferencePilot’ was probably new and innovative at this time, but whereas in Rich and Holthams article technology and the consequent new teaching approach was regarded as innovation is the innovation in Lücks and Laurence article mainly based on the technology. I guess today they you would probably use Elluminate or the InnerPass Share and Collaborate tool from Skype. Again videoconferencing is not practiced in my school and I guess we are still years away from it. However, with the new computers with integrated webcams and the use of e.g. Skype videoconferencing can be relative easy realized nowadays, given a broadband connection. I just experienced today massive problems to show my students a 15 minutes movie provided via internet from a TV channel. Although I showed this movie a few times without connection problems, I gave up this time after trying it several times.

The last article about generation21 was in my opinion pretty featureless. I found it quite difficult from the description provided to figure out what Generation21 is, and I came to the conclusion, though not sure if this is indeed the case, that Generation21 is a kind of database. This database is like a modular construction system that can be adapted to individual needs, hence an intelligent learning system, a kind of eTeacher who knows the standard of knowledge of the individual students and provide them with according learning material. Well, not sure about my conclusions 😕 I think award-giving bodies value innovations, because innovations are often equated with progress, improvement, with something revolutionary new that has the potential to change things to the better.

Like mentioned in my previous post I would regard the e.g using Second Life in education or the increasing use of mobile technology as innovation. I got to know the Horizon Reports from the New Media consortium (NMC) during my H800 studies. The NMC is an international not-for-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. The consortium’s Horizon Reports are regarded worldwide as the most timely and authoritative sources of information on new and emerging technologies available to education anywhere. In their 2010 Horizon Report they see mobile computing and open content on the near-term horizon, that is, within the next 12 months and they have e.g. ebooks on the mid-term horizon.

I think innovations have to be useful to a certain extent, otherwise they would not be adopted into education, or? I assume that disruptive in this context does not mean annoying or disturbing, but more in a sense of groundbreaking. At the time of their introduction innovations can be considered as groundbreaking, like Venkatraman (1991) who considers innovations as evolutionary and revolutionary. However, innovations do not always lead to far-reaching changes in practice – talking about ‘Groundhog day’. I am not sure how innovations arise. I think it is a process that develops, trends that indicate in a certain direction.

Well, I will report back what results and views our tutor group brought up.


References

USDLA Journal, vol.16, no.10, October 2002 [online] http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/OCT02_Issue/techex05.html (Accessed 1 December 2010).

Innovate, vol.2, no.1 [online] http://www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol2_issue1/Innovative_Teaching-__Sharing_Expertise_through_Videoconferencing.pdf (Accessed 1 December 2010).

New Media Consortium (2006) Horizon Report [online] http://www.nmc.org/horizon (Accessed 12 December 2010).

Rich, M. and Holtham, C. (2005) ‘New technology in learning: a decade’s experience in a business school’, British Journal of Educational Technology – Special Issue on Innovation in Elearning, vol.36, no.4, pp.677–9; also available online in pdf format at: http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00545.x (accessed 1 December 2010).

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