Innovation provocation

Innovation and Learning from Research:
Turning Schooling on Its Head and Moving
into the Future with Learners at the Centre
Dr Susanne Owen
Principal Officer, Research and Innovation
Innovation & research definitions
Research: Any creative systematic activity undertaken in order to increase
….. knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this
knowledge to devise new applications (DECD Research & Innovation
Framework, citing UNESCO)
Innovation is about the ‘creation and implementation of new processes,
products, services and methods of delivery which result in significant
improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness or quality of outcomes
(and) the application of new ideas to produce better outcomes’ (ANAO,
Innovation may occur ‘through continuous improvement processes,
adapting ideas from elsewhere or futures-oriented and transformative
change’ (DECD, 2010:1)
Why Innovative Education and
putting learners at the centre:
we’re already doing this, aren’t we?
• Traditional schools not necessarily delivering well for 21st
century agendas & for some students/groups
• Knowledge is recognised as central in transforming societies and
economies & concerns re economic loss from underutilisation of
human potential
• Measuring learning outcomes highlights need for finding new
ways to change outcomes and to re-focus on the learning
• Secondary student disengagement concerns: reduces to about
30% by age 15 (Dunleavy & Milton, 2012; Wilms, Friesen & Milton, 2009)
• Little higher order thinking, innovative & individualised learning
occurring & new educational possibilities are arising from ICTs
(OECD 2007 TALIS research of 70000 teachers in 24 countries re 15 year olds)
Traditional v Innovative thinking
Deductive reasoning
Requires proof
Looks for precedents
Quick to decide
Right and wrong
Ambiguity discomfort
Wants results
(Centre for Creative Leadership)
Considering multiple possibilities
Asks what if?
Unconstrained by the past
Reflective, considers complexity
Considers other ways
Relishes ambiguity
Wants meaning
Innovative thinking skills
What’s involved in Educational Innovation?
• Some risk-taking but also an intentional departure from traditional approaches
to better meet the needs of learners : be truly innovative.
• Settings providing optimal learning and development in cognitive,
meta-cognitive and socio-emotional terms.
• Be aimed at addressing the contemporary learning and educational needs of all
• Not rely on the vision, understanding or personality of a single or small group
of innovators. Rather, the innovation must be sustainable, supported by a
broad organisational foundation.
• Involve formal or informal evaluation of practice for the purpose of promoting
continual improvement.
Educational innovation models and characteristics
Minor modifications to existing product
Swims with the tide
Starts with the present & works forward
Significant breakthrough/ major
shift in design
Swims against the tide
Starts with the future and works
School Improvement?
New groupings, targeted
for specific groups,
learners define goals
Teams & multidisciplinary teachers,
coach/facilitator role,
other adults/peers
New foci for content,
21C competencies,
values, co-constructed
Innovative uses of
infrastructure, space,
community and
approaches to
assessment &
(Sebba et al, 2007)
(Grunwald Assoc, 2010)
(Grunwald Assoc, 2010)
(Grunwald Assoc, 2010)
“At a crucial turning point in global history, we have to make daring and disruptive
changes, not incremental adjustments – but without abandoning everything we
have valued and achieved in the past” (Hargreaves and Shirley, 2009)
“Examples of success in education are very similar. They involve lifting
expectations of what’s possible [and].. having the courage to be creative and
flexible in developing models that work in particular contexts, and being prepared
to make and fix mistakes along the ways” (Mick Dodson, speech to National Press
The key to success is ‘creating a knowledge-rich profession in which schools and
teachers have the authority to act, the necessary knowledge to do so wisely, and
access to effective support systems’ (Schleicher OECD, in Caldwell and Harris,
Australian National Audit Office. (ANOA). (2009). Innovation in the Public Sector. URL:
DECD. (2010). Research and Innovation Framework. URL:
Grunwald Associates. Walden University. (2010). Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills. Dispelling five Myths.
Report Summary. URL:
Hannon, V. (2011). Innovation. Keynote by Valerie Hannon at OECD Alberta conference. URL:,3746,en_21571361_48488357_49028895_1_1_1_1,00.html
Horth, D. & Buchner, D. (2009). Innovation Leadership. URL:
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2011). Inventory Case Study: Australian Science and
Mathematics School. URL:
Sebba, J., Brown, N., Steward, S., Galton, M. & James, M. (2007). An Investigation of Personalised Learning Approaches
Used by Schools. London: Department for Education and Skills. URL:
Wilms, J., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you Do in School Today. Transforming Classrooms through Social,
Academic and Intellectual Engagement. Toronto: Canadian Education association

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