An approach to understanding institutional innovation in higher educationGeorge | November 25, 2009
[apologies for formatting irritation - grrrrr]
This post introduces an approach to understanding innovation in higher education institutions through the perspective of the JISC Institutional Innovation Programme (here referred to as InIn).
This is a work in progress, and draws on previous postings on synthesis.
The post is in three broad parts. The first part addresses the question, “why?” Why change? Underlying conditions place pressure on institutions from many directions and institutions respond in various ways. The second part addresses the question, “what?” What is changing in higher education? What are the broad themes that can help us see the underlying shifts not only in practice but also in the shape and purpose of higher education institutions. And finally the third part looks briefly at the question, “how?” How are we effecting – bringing about – change in higher education institutions?
This report is an attempt to explain the thinking behind the new database: http://ssbrdb.jisclab.net/ and the mindmap visualisation, from which the database and this report derive. Click the image for a big one.
The report is possible because of the great work that is being done by the 40+ projects in the programme and the efforts of the support team in trying to get behind the day-to-day to understand the real drivers for change, and the real consequences of changing. Thank you all.
Part 1: WHY
The question of the reasons for change are complex. We address these at three levels, which might be called “political”, “pragmatic” and “programmatic”:
· “Political” – Institutional Strategy and Policy
· “Pragmatic” – Institutional ICT Concerns
· “Programmatic” – Intended Outcomes of the JISC Institutional Innovation Programme
WHY: “Political” – Institutional Strategy and Policy
WHY, from the perspective of senior management, government and other similarly positioned stakeholders are projects being funded? These are the external drivers for change: the grand narratives of economic turbulence, globalisation, reputation management and democratisation. Although top-down and external sometimes can seem distant and irrelevant from day to day practice, this “big picture” provides a very important piece of the context within which projects operate.
We take there to be five key drivers for institutional innovation: the “real reasons”, according to some, that projects undertake their work. These drivers emerge from conversations between JISC programme managers and members of institutional senior management teams, and there appears to be some consensus emerging around these as being the principal planks of institutional policies.
Economic recovery and public funding
Institutions are in receipt of public funds for teaching and research. There are two big pressures that arise from this. They are related. First, in the light of the economic downturn there are increased pressures on institutions, for example, to make 10% year on year savings. Cost saving and/or revenue raising will always be there in the background. But, second, is the related political discourse about the further marketisation of education. This is a complex political arena where student fees meets target culture and the so-called employer/demand-led funding models that are becoming so prevalent in the lifelong learning and skills sectors.
Although one of the key factors shaping the public discourses surrounding higher education, it is not yet apparent that the projects in the Institutional Innovation Programme are principally driven by this concern for economic recovery and public funding.
Quality, standards and reputation
This is a broad area of institutional concern and most projects within the Institutional Innovation Programme have at least part of their attention focussed here. Maintaining quality standards and reputation is related, in part, to the question of being in receipt of public money. But it also concerns such things as the environment, league tables, student satisfaction, and even the question of a professionalised workforce. At the very local level, professional reputations may be at stake. Most projects in the programme see themselves as addressing quality issues in one way or another.
Often expressed as international competitiveness, many institutions, and the whole enterprise of higher education in the UK, are shaped in part by a competitive team-UK approach to understanding international relations. However globalisation is far more complex than the winner/loser sports metaphor allows. There are issues of working abroad for British students and studying in the UK for people from overseas. But international responsiveness also includes questions of immigration policy and open borders: student advisers are being asked to play a monitoring role on behalf of the British borders authority, for example, where interim course results and formative assessment are standing as proxy for attendance. The internationalised university has also to respond to issues raised by the market-based assumptions of GATS, Kyoto, as well as considering international emergency management and resilience not only in the curriculum but in the institution’s own planning.
Social mobility, equality, democracy
Finally, the social mission of universities includes human capital development element to increase participation in higher education.
WHY: “Pragmatic” – Institutional ICT Concerns
WHY, perhaps more pragmatically, are projects engaged in their work. These are the local, ground-level drivers of innovation: the petits recits set against the grand narratives of global, economic drivers; regardless of the big picture, for example, there will be 10,000 undergraduates enrolled at our institution, expecting to be taught and logging into the VLE next week.
Learning, teaching and assessment
· design, pedagogies, delivery, assessment, evaluation, feedback, mentoring
Research and development
· distributed collaboration, large data sets, visualisation, eresearch
Business and community engagement
· Local and regional agendas given equal weight to national and international agendas
· Repositories, databases, electronic libraries, IP, pre/post-print access, citation, reference management, social bookmarking, personal learning resources
· Records, work-flows, architectures, registration, examination management, certification, transcripts, lifelong learning records
Institutional ICT services
· data storage, access, use, representation, link to the physical network, transmission, signalling, operating systems, protocols
· Buildings and grounds, facilities, transport services, HVAC, physical resource management, energy management
Mobile, location-aware, ambient, pervasive computing (MLAPC)
· Mobile, Location-aware, Ambient, Pervasive Computing services (MLAPC) are entering the mainstream and increasingly students and staff are using mobile devices to access information, education and leisure services
· Access to a wide variety of data on a smart mobile device (such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry etc).
· Environmental footprint mitigation: energy requirement, cooling, space use
WHY: “Programmatic” – Intended Outcomes of the JISC Institutional Innovation Programme
WHY, programatically is the JISC funding projects? These are, categorically, the outcomes that are sought for projects, expressed in the call and by which the programme’s effect might be understood and evaluated.
Efficiency, effectiveness and quality
· Efficiency gains, effectiveness and quality; useable and used; it works, it impacts on resource use and is felt to be valuable
Sustainable technological solutions
· Sustainable technological solutions; aligned with physical/natural world, holistic, large systems thinking; guidelines, how-tos, technical specifications (QOS, WAN, rss, etc)
Enhanced community networks
· Enhanced community networks: pre-formal and formal (what Duton, 2007 calls “pro-social” networks); regular meetings of groups of people at conferences, assemblies, seminars, community and professional associations, working groups, committees; business groups, professional institutes; processes, institutional change processes; developing community in particular ways to facilitate change management. Expectation management.
· Strategic leadership: best practice exemplars, models, guides, sustained innovation
Technical development services
· Access to practical advice, technical services, demonstrators and detailed guidance; information, workshops, case studies, consultancy, skills provision
Part 2: What
WHAT is changing? What is really new? What are the consequences of responding to the strategic, pragmatic and programmatic drivers of change? There are new and unexpected re-aggregations of institutions, of practices, of epistemologies, of the built environment, and there are new kinds of learners
Portals and personal learning environments
· Portals and personal portals
· Views into novel multi institutional or disaggregated institutional programmes
· eportfolios and PLEs, for CPD and LLL
· New ways in to reconfigurable clusters, networks, disciplines or communities of participation involving multiple individual and institutional relationships: people, universities, colleges, schools, employers, regulatory bodies
Flexible frameworks for accreditation
· Frameworks marry employer and employee needs with recognition of achievement leading to an HE level course and the possibility of a degree or post graduate qualification.
· Providing a consistent framework for credit across an institution might lead the way for a more regional/national framework.
· Part of flexible frameworks for accreditation includes the whole APL spectrum: APL, APEL, APCL, APPL, etc.
New learning skills and digital literacy
· Evolving multimedia, new learning skills, problem solving, innovation management;
· Digital literacy: Literacy debate may go beyond skills into knowledge and semantics but needs to be grounded in skills: how to do things like learn and teach. Note particularly the rise of participatory multi-media and its importance to cultural sense making reflected in podcasting, lecture capture and audio-video feedback.
New knowledge: post-text epistemology
· New multimedia, post-text epistemologies impact on validation, assessment, marking criteria, professional regulation, membership of formal associations
· discipline underpinned not by text but by multimedia and hyper-media linked representations and a connected (digital) commons; epistemological chaos
· Aware physical/digital environments;
· Reconfigurable spaces for learning, stability/mutability of the physical estate;
· Sustainability, reusability, personalisation of space: education commons, access grid, quality of service, VOIP, distributed collaborative space, cones of silence;
· Learning landscapes
Formal semantics and standards
· Web standards: rdf, micro-formats, identity, profiles, ontologies, metadata, dbWiki, tags, key words, controlled vocabularies, rss, opml, doi, etc;
· AND physical building standards and regs (plumbing, heating, lighting, energy management)
The social capital reciprocal and response to the policy driver of “Social mobility, equality, democracy”:
· New kinds of learners
· Access, openness, progression, retention, mentoring, CPD, communities of…,
· professional standards, graduate attributes, licences to practice, professional indemnity
· Creative Commons
· Peer-to-peer participatory culture
· Free flowing and strategic innovation
Part 3: How
HOW, at the micro level, are projects doing what they are doing? What are the specific tools, standards, processes, being used? This will be a long and incohate list. Coherence is found at the level of innovation themes. This captures the diversity of the programme. PHP or Java? Google Apps or Microsoft SharePoint?