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In his paper, Innovation and Change: Changing How we Change the author Jon Dron (2014) draws attention to the finer distinctions of innovation as it relates to distance education by examining how the interplay of the end users and the technology can be a driver of innovation. Identification of deficiencies through use often result in a reconfiguration of technologies resulting in an evolution of the original artifact. Or alternatively how the identification of an unfulfilled need drives the creation of something new.

The assignment 1 empathetic design thinking prototyping activity was an example of how innovation can be driven by an identified learner need. This need directed our focus on the ideation of a new material delivery and collaboration end user interface. Through the re-purposing an existing collaboration tool, the User Group Forum, and adding privacy and permission restrictions we were able to meet the needs of the students, through the innovative use of existing elements (Goldman, et al, 2012).

The ideation of our digital Student Inquiry board was a human-centered re-purposing of existing technology as it was designed with the needs of the learner at the center. The technology was adapted and modified to address the identified learner need, but subsequent revisions would be initiated through end user feedback causing the innovation cycle to begin anew with another re-purposing and recombining of technology and technique only this time driven by the end user directly.

Like an evolutionary cycle, Innovation drives improvement for learners and broadens the understanding of the learning facilitators by encouraging continuous reexamining and reflection.


Dron, J. (2014). Chapter 9: Innovation and Change: Changing how we Change. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. Athabasca, AB: AU Press.

Goldman, S. et al. (2012). Assessing d.learning: Capturing the Journey of Becoming a Design Thinker | SpringerLink. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from