A recurring issue for HEIs is how to promote and sustain innovation in the teaching practice of academic staff. The training and development of staff is widely recognised as critical to the achievement of teaching excellence (Isaac et el 2018) and Jisc (2018) have advocated to government for the improved affordances of technology for the benefit of both staff and students. The focus of this paper aligns with Conference Theme 4.
Over a three year period at our university, we have leveraged the annual review of education practice to implement a series of connected, institution-wide initiatives that focused in the first year on innovation using technology enhanced learning (TEL) tools using the in-house developed TEL Toolkit, in year two on innovation using the tools and features of a new virtual learning environment (including video notes, checklists, conditional content release, intelligent agents that automatic unit administration, and student analytics) and in the most recent year on innovation in using technology to personalise learning for students (through multi-format content, individualised pathways through content, electronic student reflection systems linked to academic advisors and choice in assessment type and format). There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of staff participating in these initiatives which speaks to their reach and engagement.
While the focus each year has changed, the underpinning philosophy, supported by authors such Visvizi et al (2018) and Martin (2018) has been that dialogue, the sharing of best practice and experience, the appropriate use of technology, peer feedback and review and alignment with the wider institutional strategy and policy can be effective in raising the profile of innovation and inculcating more sustainable teaching practices that broaden out from the individual to the institution. Developing a regular programme of activity has started to shift the expectation that technological innovation, rather than being the preserve of a minority, is now a core and expected element of everyone’s teaching practice. An expected benefit of these programmes has been to introduce much more variety into the teaching practice of staff who now place less reliance on the format of a slideshow-supported lecture followed by a seminar discussion. A less expected benefit has been the increase in student engagement attributable to this changed approach and the wider range of tools now in use which have broader appeal. Colleagues who support students with additional learning needs are also in the process of leveraging the affordances of technology to improve the level of support they offer and lessen the barriers to learning.
In this paper, we report on the findings of the three year programme from academic and support staff. Using a rich case study approach (Yin 2011) and over 600 questionnaire responses supported by an analysis of feedback of the benefits to staff and students, we explore in which areas and to what extent innovation has been successful at our institution and how its impact has widened.
Our findings and recommendations will help other institutions to develop and ameliorate their own pathways to technological innovation and diffusion.
Isaac, S, Le Duc, I, Hardebolle, C and Tormey, R, (2018. Training and development needs for a 21st century academic in Global Perspectives on Teaching Excellence.
Jisc, (2018). Data and technology transforming post-18 education. [Online]. Available at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/data-and-technology-transforming-post-18-education-03-may-2018. Accessed 11 March 2018.
Martin, M, (2018). Trends in good practice from Higher Education Review 2013-16.
Visvizi, A, Miltiadis D. Lytras, M D and Daniela, L. 2018. The Future of Innovation and Technology in Education: Policies and Practices for Teaching and Learning Excellence. 297-305.
Yin, R K, (2011). Applications of case study research. Sage.