Innovation. It’s one of those shiny words that pops up in mission statements and prospectuses, letting people know that this ain’t no fuddy-duddy, set-in-its-ways college. This is a college that’s not afraid of the gleaming straight-out-of-the-box ideas and practices that will drive things to the future.
Yet, in the dash for change, the greater educational good can sometimes be overlooked.
Crusty old delivery? Make way for facilitation. Out with the mouldy old sage on the stage to make way for the vibrant guide on the side. After all, it’s better for the students to gain their own knowledge. From there, it’s not a massive step to hiring unqualified staff to fulfil the same role as a qualified lecturer (at a knock-down price, obviously).
Online learning: a way to engage students who may otherwise not be able to access the training they need; an approach that allows students to take ownership and immerse themselves in the digital world? Or a scheme to fulfil obligations in regards to learning hours without having to organise class time and staff (and pay for them)?
Am I being overly cynical? Perhaps. But, I’ve seen enough shonky practice under the banner of innovation to be hesitant about embracing every next big thing.
We have to make sure that we’re not blinded by the gleam, and that we see innovation, and the intent behind it, for what it really is in each individual case.
Tom Starkey teaches English at a college in the North of England