Unit 2. Activity 1- What is Innovation to Me

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As our cohort moves into the second unit of the course, we are confronted with the critical question of “is all change necessarily innovative”? In one of our collaborate sessions, our professor, Deborah Carter, oriented us to the varying definitions of innovation. What resonated with me from this discussion is that innovation can take different forms, and it depends on the state of the organization and its culture. At my work, our team has implemented varying degrees of changes in our education deliveries, including the digital tools to enhance the learning experience of our learners. I view this as a continuum of renewal and innovation. The novelty in our education and training delivery is an innovation that compelled our team to enhance our knowledge and skills in meeting the needs of 21st-century learners. We also collaborated with subject matter experts and learners to enhance our education strategies, which I consider a renewal of our design practices.

Dron (2014) articulated the intertwined relationship of the technology evolution, social changes, and paradigm shift in pedagogical philosophies. All these factors have shaped the changes and innovations that have occurred in the education sphere. And though innovation is mostly associated with the technologies that are either emergent or novel, personal choices and intervention play a significant role in the development, adoption, and adaptation of these innovative technologies. The question I am posing to myself and my peers is, what is our role in this fast-paced and dynamic cycle of innovation that we constantly encounter in our domain?


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.

4 thoughts on “Unit 2. Activity 1- What is Innovation to Me

  1. Hi Sharon,
    Excellent question. I believe our role in this fast-paced and dynamic cycle of innovation is to ensure that innovation doesn’t overshadow the needs of the end-user. As designers, we have to be wary of innovation for innovation’s sake. We have to embrace new technology as a means to enhance connection and communication. In this context, the philosophy of empathic design counters the hard edges of innovation. Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, & Koskinen (2014) describe empathic design as embracing the human and collaborative elements of design. To assess innovation through this lens, I believe, will ensure that new technologies and techniques enhance the human element of learning.

    Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What happened to empathic design. Design Issues, 30(1), 67-77. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=ea5e66a8-821a-47a7-83e9-93150309979c%40pdc-v-sessmgr05&bdata=#AN=93319826&db=aph

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I concur with your perspective that applying the human-centred approach to any design is imperative. Hence, empathy is a priority when bringing in different talents and innovative technologies in the design process. Digital tools are only as effective as humans interact with them. Therefore, it should always be the user that is in the center of the design, not the tools. Thanks!

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Great post. Thank you! I definitely agree with Jeff’s thoughtful response as I too maintain a focus on needs of my audience(s). I’d like to add a thought from the Moore article, ” While learner input is not explicitly sought until this point, subject matter experts have been intimately involved in earlier steps and their feedback has been implemented” (2016, p. 432). This idea resonates strongly with me as I’ve always viewed my role as that of a conduit to facilitate the exchange of information from each participant to ultimately distill it into the most appropriate elixir. So, as Kathy suggests in her blog, I see an instructional designer’s role as part magician, and part, scientist. We just have to be careful not to blow anything up in chemistry class!

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