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FORUM: What does innovation look like in your school? | An Enabling e-Learning event

Started by Nathaniel Louwrens 16 Mar 2016 9:24am () Replies (81)

Innovation in schools of any type needs to start with the idea that the goal is not to force kids to abandon their passions and interests for our curriculum.

- Will Richardson, Stop innovating in schools. Please.

blue orange Dictionary.com defines innovation as:

  1. Something new or different introduced

  2. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.

There is so much innovation going on in our schools. Leaders and teachers are coming up with new ideas, and new ways of doing things all the time. But what innovation looks like to one school could be completely different for another as each school has different goals and philosophies.

George Couros states in Innovation and best practice, that his “belief is that innovation in teaching and learning starts with empathy; truly trying to understand those that you serve.” He expands on this to say that it’s “not only a starting point, but a continuous part of the process”.

As with all things in schools, we need to ensure that student learning is foremost on our mind. This includes in how we innovate. Will Richardson made this very clear when he says,

To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning.


Join the discussion

  • What does innovation look like to you?

  • What does innovation in your school look like?

  • Are the innovations in your school amplifying learning? If so - how?

  • How is digital technology supporting innovation in your school?

  • Where do the tensions/challenges lie if any?


Image source: Thom Lunasea - Flickr CC BY-2.0



  • Maurie Abraham (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2016 6:45pm ()

    Hi. Maurie Abraham here from Hobsonville Point Secondary School. We are a new school in our third year with only Years 9 - 11 at the moment.The 2 innovations we are currently involved in are:

    Student Voice to determine the contexts for learning

    Combining Learning Areas to create a more relevant and authentic setting for the student contexts in a way that models collaboration in action.

    As a result of these 2, students experience 80% of their learning in an integrated and blended fashion with 2 teachers facilitating the group.

    How Do We Use Student Voice?

    8 Big Concepts are covered by our Year 9 and 10 learners (who are viewed as 1 cohort) over a two year period. Our modules cover 2 terms (1 semester) so are related to 2 Big Concepts. Term 1 this year is Identity and Term 2 is Space and Place. We met with student representatives to explore what these concepts meant to them and then we brainstormed contexts they would like to explore (they came up with stuff like How did the universe begin and how will it end? How do refugees maintain their identity while being dislocated?)

    Teachers meet in teams to use this information to create modules that combine 2 Learning Areas.

    The levels of engagement impress us and all of the visitors who come and have a look. That's about all of the evidence we have at the moment!

    I'm happy to post on either of these and provide resources if this post sparks any interest.

  • Maurie Abraham (View all users posts) 01 Apr 2016 7:38am ()

    I am becoming more convinced that innovation is more possible with the combination of what I call moral purpose and courage. The moral purpose aspect is linked to Nathaniel's questions re Why do we need to be innovative and What is the purpose? This goes straight to the core of what schooling is about.

    We need to keep asking ourselves what is the purpose of schooling and what are the key principles that determine what schooling should look like. Personally, I think schooling needs to be centred on the needs and the passions of the students. To support this at HPSS we have 3 key principles: Innovate through personalising learning, Engaging through powerful partnerships and Inspiring through deep challenge and inquiry. ​Being guided by these principles allows us to fulfill our moral purpose of meeting the needs of the learners, rather than of the teachers or of the school or of the parents.

    A case in point is when we were settling on our innovative approach to NCEA which is largely to skip NCEA L1 and set our students on a 2 year journey to a quality NCEA L2. Having our 14-15 year olds ploughing through 120+ credits towards NCEA L1 did not allow us to ensure our students were inspired by deep challenge and inquiry as it promoted surface coverage to get through so many credits. Because it could not pass through this filter our moral purpose required us to think differently.

    The courage aspect comes in when you face teachers, students and parents who know no other pathway. It wasn't good enough for us to say we'd like to do something differently but our parents wont like it.

    The combination of moral purpose and courage is vital. 

  • Maurie Abraham (View all users posts) 01 Apr 2016 12:58pm ()

    Moral purpose is continually being refined as you enter different contexts and different stages of the journey. Right now I'm happy with creating a stimulating and inclusive environment which empowers learners to contribute confidently and responsibly in a changing world. Happy to have this critiqued and thrashed around.

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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.