Innovation for Educators: Meeting challenge with change in the contemporary classroom

Educational change depends on what teachers do and think—it is as simple and as complex as that.” M. Fuller, author of ‘The New Meaning of Educational Change’

 

As any educator can tell you, the pedagogy you learn in your teacher training is constantly shifting according to the latest developments in research and technology. But while education theory changes, it often takes more time for institutional structures and school curriculums to follow suit.

For teachers wanting to bring some change into their classroom, that can be a frustrating experience

The good news is that you’ve got a lot of scopes to be an innovative teacher, even within old-fashioned structures. Actually, the research shows that the most important factor when it comes to innovation is you, the teacher. And, thank goodness for that, because we can’t always wait for the curriculum to change. Educators have got to make it happen themselves.

The importance of your unique approach to innovation

We already know that educators are resourceful and creative. A recent study examining the application of a new pedagogical tool in San Francisco, for example, found that each educator applied that tool in a unique way. No educator is a passive vessel for curriculum content. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re abreast of all the options on your table for a change.

 Developments in technology and new ways of thinking such as design theory offers educators a new set of tools for your own innovations. By equipping yourself with knowledge in these areas, you can turn a challenge into a potential area of change.

Take the challenge of engaging kids from the digital generation, for example.

Technology is advancing quickly. It can be an incredible learning tool, with each new advance bringing all kinds of innovative potential new uses. But, many educators and institutions are dealing with the other side of this recent shift. Studies show that distracted students can spend as much as 20% of class time on their phones doing unrelated tasks.

As an educator, you can choose how to address this challenge

 

While it’s always important to restrict or address class time spent on unrelated distractions, there’s also scope here for educators to introduce creative innovations in teaching. These students brought up in the digital world are accustomed to the fast pace of online culture and constant turnover of meems. They’re also used to two-way communication, ‘sharing’ and audio-visual content. More than just distractions, these are types of digital literacy that you can draw from in order to engage. An innovative approach could look at the following strategies:

 

What can we learn from these technologies? – New learning apps such as Duolingo (a language ap) have been developed using the input of some world-class psychologists and language teachers. The ap breaks everything down into small, varied tasks and has its own rewards system built in. By examining what it is that makes this approach to learning successful, we can transfer it into the classroom.

 

Conversation and collaboration – Some of the major lessons we’ve learned from design thinking are around the importance of conversation and collaboration. This dynamic is a big part of what makes social media so attractive and as a result, it’s something kids are already used to do. By inviting students to contribute actively to their own learning process, to ‘co-create’ their tasks, you’re inviting greater engagement.

 

Introduce more storytelling – ‘telling your story’ through images, gifs, memes and text is an integral part of social media. By relating course content to personal stories and encouraging ‘sharing’, you can go straight to the heart of what’s so interesting about those status updates. Storytelling is, after all, one of the most effective forms of learning.

The Torrens University Masters of Education (Innovation and Change)

Recognising the need among educators for the development of change-making skills, Torrens has developed a Masters of Education that specialises in Innovation and Change. The course content includes teaching strategies, design thinking, new technologies, examining and interpreting data and specialised research projects in innovation that can be directly applied to the classroom. Not only will you be able to practice new forms of innovation, you can learn how to assess their effectiveness.

 

If you’re interested in this topic area, don’t miss the upcoming Innovation & Change Education Webinar on the 8th of February at 6:30 pm.

You can have the opportunity to question University Staff about the content of the Masters of Education (Innovation and Change), plus you’ll be able to talk directly with the other educators who are logged on to the event.

Advance your skills in leadership and transformation!

Download the FREE course guide and learn more about our Graduate Certificate of Education (Innovation & Change) and our unique Master of Education Innovation and Change

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