What is pedagogical innovation?

Made with Canva by Steve Brophy.  Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA )
Made with Canva by Steve Brophy.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

I recently reread a great post from Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) about the meaning of pedagogy.  His historical exploration of the word’s origin really opened my mind, with the following passage particularly resonating with me.

“Pedagogy is leading people to a place where they can learn for themselves. It is about creating environments and situations where people can draw out from within themselves, and hone the abilities they already have, to create their own knowledge, interpret the world in their own unique ways, and ultimately realise their full potential as human beings.”
Steve Wheeler

For this post, this will serve as the definition of pedagogy.  It is empowering in it’s statement and clarity.  For the definition of innovation, I couldn’t look any further than Scott Berkun’s ‘best definition of innovation’ post where he shares the following statement

“Innovation is significant positive change.”

So if we combine the two to define pedagogical innovation, we get something like the following:

“Pedagogical innovation is significant positive change to the way that we lead people to a place where they can learn for themselves.”   

What does this then look like?  Context is an important extremely important element as it provides the environment, the soil, the conditions for change.  With that being said, what may be innovative in one environment may not work for another.  Flipped learning may significantly change one context positively but have no impact on another.  What exactly constitutes innovative positive change?  Is it substantial change?  Is it sustainable change?  According to the Teaching and Learning International Survey Teaching Practices and Pedagogical Innovation Evidence from TALIS Centre for Educational Research and Innovation,

“Innovations sometimes involve radical changes, but often they result only in incremental adaptations of well-known practices. Pedagogical practice always needs to be innovative. Adapting to characteristics of students and responding to their development is an inherent aspect of pedagogy.”

What do my students need to develop?  If the current method of leading them to learn for themselves is not working, use the characteristics and needs of your students to drive the change.  Sometimes the idea for change will just pop into your head but what happens if the ideas are struggling to flow.  Richard Olsen (@richardolsen) has developed a fantastic tool called the Modern Learning Canvas to assist educators to make this process easier.  Based on the Business Model Canvas, Richard has provided teachers with a framework for planning and discussing their current teaching practice and a guided method to plan for innovation.  By breaking your pedagogy down into nine different elements (learner role, strategies, enablers, practice, culture, policies, educator role, learning outcomes and pedagogical beliefs), teachers can highlight an area that may need to change and make (incremental) adjustments.  Below is a sample of a Canvas that I did with a few of my colleagues.  While you can most definitely do it individually, the best conversations come from doing it together.  The discussion that we had was inspiring and led us to a clearer vision for the future.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.08.45 PM

By highlighting the area of need, you can start to pinpoint the metrics that you will use to measure the change.  It leads to refined action research and achievable change.  If you are keen to learn more, visit http://www.modernlearningcanvas.com or join the Google + group.  Thanks for reading everyone!






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