Unit 2 | Why Innovate? New, Renewal or Change


In this Unit, we explore the concept of innovation and examine the new to renewal innovation continuum. In addition, we examine a number of “innovative” digital learning environments to answer the following questions:

  • Are they truly innovative?
  • How do people innovate?
  • How do innovation and design combine?
  • How does innovation impact how people learn from and with technology?

We will explore some of the key theories and models of innovation, their interconnections, their merits, and critiques against them, and how they apply to educational technology in particular, and digital learning environments more broadly.

Learning Activities and Assignments

Activity 1 | Orienting yourself to the field of innovation, renewal and change

We will engage in a discussion and consider innovative ways to re-consider the designing of instruction from the lenses of innovation, renewal, and change. It is essential that we ground ourselves in the literature. During Week 5, please overview  Dron (2014) and Goldman et al (2012). Read Monash University – Develop a Question. If time permits, begin choosing the Optional Readings and Resources from Unit 1 for your Assignment 3.

  • As you overview and read these articles, refer to the News Bulletin: Unit 2, Week 5.
  • Annotate your readings and highlight specific questions and concerns you might have regarding the process and attention that is played to understanding the needs and characteristics of the learners who engage in the instruction that has been designed.
  • As you read the readings and resources in this unit, please consider the key theories and models of innovation and try to find connections / interconnections between the models.  Further, try to determine the merits of the various models / approaches to innovation, being mindful of the critiques others in the literature might have.
  • For Contributions to Learning Community, please post your thoughts, concerns and questions on your blog.
  • Consider the following prompts in your posts:
    • Is all change necessarily innovative?
    • What constitutes innovation?
    • What is the link between innovation, innovating, design, technology?

Activity 2 | Case Studies

Case Studies: Purpose, Value, and Format

Innovation, whether something new or a renewal of existing practices, policies, strategies, etc. is a constant is most workplaces. As Heraclitus, in 535 BC, said, “There is nothing more constant than change,” and those of us working in digital learning environment know this to be true. Whether it be changes in learning management systems, software upgrades, insights learned from brain research and the learning sciences, etc., change is constant. Among the questions we ask in Unit 2, include:

  • Is all change necessarily innovative?
  • What constitutes innovation?
  • What is the link between innovation, innovating, design, technology?

Everyone works in a unique setting. It is unique because of our involvement, perspective, and context. Even when several of us are working in the same or similar setting, it is unique to us based on our roles, responsibilities, experiences, etc.

In Unit 2, Activity 2, you need to identify an instance of new or renewed learning practices in your unique setting.

  • Draw on your readings and your experiences to help you identify the practices.
  • Using the case framework provided, build a case study for your chosen instance that identifies and analyzes the innovative aspect and its impact on learning.  The Case Study excluding Title Page, Exhibits, and References should be a maximum of 1500 words length.  Your case study is one of three deliverables for Assignment 3:  Case Examination.

Overview: Case Study Framework

Compelling case studies are based on a narrative description (beginning, middle and end) of an actual situation, experience, context, event, etc. A case study is bounded by time, people and / or place.  It is in the “bounding” or boundary setting that a story of practice can be told. Consistent with most case studies are the following components:

  • Title Page
    • A title introduces the reader to what is unique about this case. What is this a case of…
    • For this assignment, you may add a relevant quote under title that positions your case within a broader human experience. Could be a quote taken from a range of sources (i.e., historical figure, common knowledge, participant in the case, etc.)
    • Full name, you may add your role or job title if you choose.
    • Date, Name of Instructor, Course Name and Code
  • Table of Contents
    • Add any subheadings you may use following APA standards
  • Executive Summary
    • Think of this section like an abstract of an academic paper.
  • Introduction
    • Several paragraphs that serve the reader to understand why the case under study is important and has significance to the organization in which the case is situated.
    • The introduction explains the underlying issues inherent in the case and shares any required background information.
    • The introduction and analysis makes up the Case Narrative, the story of the case (beginning) and the evidence (middle). The introduction is descriptive. It could include charts, pictures, graphics, statistics, etc.
  • Analysis
    • The analysis (middle of the Case Narrative) is the evidence of the Case Narrative that serves the reader to understand the learning environment innovation from either a new or renewed perspective.
  • Alternatives
    • Prompts the readers to consider ways the Case Narrative might end.
    • Provide at least two alternatives (including the one you will recommend) for the readers.
  • Recommendation and Implementation Plan
    • Detail why your recommendation is the best ending to the Case Narrative.
    • Add your Action Plan
  • Conclusion
    • Tell the reader what you told them.
    • Conclusions don’t usually have any new information.
    • Summarize and restate your recommendation
  • Exhibits
    • Like Appendices in academic writing
    • Exhibit 1. Set of Design Principles (see Activity 3)
    • Exhibit 2. Continuum showing where your recommendation exists (see Activity 4)
  • References
    • APA standards.
    • Academic literature to support the case and provide additional information

Activity 3 | Design Principles

CXPartners (June 18, 2015). Design Principles – a guide [Blog post].
Design Principles FTW. (n.d.). What are Design Principles Anyway? [Blog Post]Design Principles: Purpose, Value, and Formations

Design principles are an invaluable tool to guide your work. Design principle are developed from your unique setting including your beliefs, ideas, readings, resources, prior experiences, etc. Design principles are a valuable tool as they make our thinking visible to ourselves and others and set a sharable roadmap for our thinking. Interesting tweets about design principles found on Design Principles FTW.

Specific to the creating Innovative Environments, design principles are the core ideas or beliefs you have that allow you to consistently and intentionally renewed or innovate learning environment. You might think of design princiciples as a checklist of concepts, ideas, issues that being together what you know about teaching, user experiences, technology, and learning that should inform the creation of learning environments.

Drawing on your readings, experience, and case study, develop 6 – 10 Design Principles you could use to improve learning within your context.  Your Design Principles are part of Assignment 3: Case Examination.

Activity 4 | Understanding the Importance of Thinking Along a Continuum

Using Structure to See Grey within Traditionally Black and White Paradigms

The American inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, notes, “Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”  Innovation rarely exists in isolation – it is impacted by numerous factors, conditions and thoughts.

We suggest that innovation also can be described within a continuum, suggesting rarely is something absolutely NEW or UNIQUE. Rather, an innovative practice or idea might be positioned along a continuum of renewal or new.

As part of Assignment 3: Case Examination, please position your case study along a continuum of innovation; possibly using the terms renewal and new as points.  We see a continuum as being a continuous sequence with the extremes between quite distinct – black / white; old / young; innovative / fluid / static.


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