By Patrick Lyons

When I think of innovation, I think of a change, an idea or activities that are new or different. Thinking of innovation in the context of technology is easy. The smartphone is innovative. Hybrid cars are innovative. The Internet is filled with innovative applications that change how we interact with information and our world. Innovation is very context and time specific. Few would consider the train, car or airplane as innovative now, but when they were introduced they were considered hugely innovative (although not necessarily right away).

But when I say innovation in teaching and learning, what does this mean?

I’m not sure the answer is as obvious when thinking about innovation in other contexts and fields. For some, innovation in teaching and learning implies the use of technology in a new or different way in or outside of a classroom. For others innovation implies using a different or even unorthodox approach or technique to teach and to help students learn.  It could be a different type of assessment. My own belief is that innovation in teaching and learning is a personal and in many cases, an individual concept.

This does not mean that I think that there are no broad innovations in teaching and learning that are taking place. Rather, I believe that each instructor should consider themselves innovators when they try some new or different in their teaching. For some using a learning management system for the first time will be innovative, for others it might incorporating community service based learning, it might be an instructor shifting to portfolio based assessment, integrating students smartphones in the class, or even using the chalkboard instead of PowerPoint, Keynote or Presi. Innovation is teaching and learning is doing something new for you as a teacher, or even something differently in a class.

Speaking of innovation in teaching and learning, the Society for Teaching and Learning (STLHE) and Desire2Learn recently announced the five inaugural award winners for the Desire2Learn Innovation Award for Teaching and Learning.

Innovation in teaching and learning for these five award winners is broad and a very diverse and it includes the building and use of an online interactive molecular tool, an online tutoring system, the development of a degree program in nanotechnology, experiential learning in accounting, and even a new model of learning.

I encourage you to learn more these leaders in innovation in teaching and learning by reading about their accomplishments here.

For help and support in becoming a personal innovator please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the EDC.