• Open universities and the broader open narrative

    Today Martin Weller gave a really nice talk at the OU that was streamed for a global audience that was no doubt numerous. I’m told there’s a recording that will be posted for those who have missed it. There was a lot of rich information in his talk but Martin punctuated a few big points for me: Open universities were a higher education innovation and continue to be an innovation (I wholeheartedly agree). In fact, “innovation happened around an idea of openness”, which ensures its relevance. The Open University has been innovating open and ed tech for a long time (they were early adopters of Moodle and the biggest contributor…

  • A crash course in ed tech and online learning for higher ed leaders

    One of the things I’ve come to appreciate is how challenging it can be for an institution to grapple with online learning and ed tech.  Leadership is so important and yet the top layer of an institution is generally not selected for their in depth knowledge of something many of us have dedicated our careers to. Even Directors of Teaching and Learning centres may specialize in other things, and have only an operational level understanding of ed tech and how it supports teaching and learning. The online learning in Canadian universities and colleges 2018 preliminary data is pointing – with a few exceptions –  to the growth of online and…

  • Don’t let your online strategy become a conversation about which LMS to use

    I’m that age where I can say I’ve been working in ed tech for 15 + years.  Like many of us, my life in ed tech in higher education began more or less with the LMS.  Through the years I’ve witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly with seemingly endless tentacles that the LMS brings to our discussions about teaching and learning and especially online learning in our institutions. Here’s the short of it. LMS’s do some things really well and are not going to go away.  We still use an LMS at our institution, and while I would really like the vendor to invest some of our hard…

  • Decentralized structures and the innovation agenda

    In a few of my posts on innovation, I’ve talked about the role that teaching and learning centres have in supporting an institutional innovation agenda, and where they can run into trouble.  In my last post, I argued that without proper prioritization, innovation can become an add-on watered down initiative that the centre is tasked with. I also wrote in one of my earlier posts about finding  the innovators in the institution, who are likely scattered across programs and the importance of recognizing and building on what they are doing.  I’m essentially advocating for a bottom up and top down approach to innovation with a goal of healthy and meaningful…

  • Prioritizing Innovation in the Organizational Structure

    It’s been a while since I wrote a series about the topic of innovation in higher education.  Here they are from 2015: About those innovation jobs…7 Rules About Innovation First steps in Creating a culture of innovation in higher education – Figuring out what innovation will mean Removing barriers to innovation – the teaching and learning centre and third spaces Some ideas for creating a culture of innovation Considerations for ed tech and innovation In preparation for being invited a second time (thanks Mark!) to facilitate a discussion on Institutional Organization and Support  in the Planning and Managing Technologies in Higher Education course,  I’ve found myself thinking about organizational structures and achieving higher ed innovation…

  • Run, Computer, Run: The Mythology of Educational Innovation

      When I was prepping my keynote for CNIE, I encountered some interesting quotes taken from a 1969 collection of essays playfully entitled Run, Computer, Run: The Mythology of Educational Innovation written by Anthony Oettinger.  There are literally no copies on the interwebs that I could find, but I was able to interlibrary loan a copy, ran out of time, digitized a copy, and in the interest of important history I’m sharing it here:   run computer run 1969.  I haven’t had to photocopy an entire book since about 1998, so the 25 minutes at the copier flipping pages and pressing the Start button 150 times may have been a bit…

  • Innovation in Higher Education…and other blasts from the past

    I had the pleasure to be a keynote at CNIE 2017 in Banff last week, 14 years after first attending the very first iteration of this conference in the exact same location. This year’s theme was Exploring our past, present and future, which could not have been a more perfect theme to talk about a topic I’ve become quite interested in over the past year.  Last year I began looking into the past of concepts like open pedagogy/pédagogie ouverte  and delving into this past has really helped me gain some perspective on how we are currently talking about open.  Preparing for the CNIE keynote gave me a great opportunity to delve  more deeply into the past…

  • Considerations for ed tech and innovation

    This is a continuation of a series of posts on innovation, and is my attempt to get a bit more pragmatic about the topic, namely because I was asked to frame some of my thinking into a workshop on innovation in higher education. There’s a number of ways to go with the topic, so I’m starting with some thoughts on considerations for innovation, which in this post I’m using somewhat interchangeably with educational technology. So if you are uncomfortable with the word innovation, you can swap in educational technology and arrive at a similar place. For starters, it’s important to highlight Tony Bates’ well-established SECTIONS model for selecting educational technologies or…

  • Some ideas for creating a culture of innovation

    In my last post I mentioned the importance of the idea of third spaces in creating a culture of innovation and in removing barriers to innovation.  I focused solely on the T & L centre as an obvious starting point for a third space or facilitative boundary object, partly because I really wasn’t in the mood to get into how IT departments, steering committees, etc can be so inhibitive, even if they try to be on board with innovation.  I find that often these inhibitive structures don’t really know how to be facilitative of innovation, and like T & L centres need some transformation.  As the new Director/VP of innovation you can’t always dismantle…

  • Removing barriers to innovation – the teaching and learning centre and third spaces

    In my last 2 posts ( 7 Rules About Innovation ; First Steps in Creating a Culture of Innovation;   I said I’d get to the topic of removing barriers to innovation in an institution. I’m a bit academic about this topic, since I feel like this stage requires some sort of framework that gives your actions some method to the madness.  This is also one area where I think senior leadership would do well to be a bit more academic outside of standard leadership literature and practices.  But I digress… Rogers’ diffusion of innovation theory is probably the most well known and cited tome on innovation, and I’ve found that senior admin really…

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