iInnovate: Scaling innovation from the individual to the institution

Further to Debbie Holley’s post about the acceptance of an abstract for the ALT-C conference in Liverpool in September, we have just had a second submission approved.  This second abstract focuses on the iInnovate initiative and reports on institution-wide innovation and the sharing of best practice.


A significant issue for HEIs is how to promote and sustain innovation in teaching staff.  The technology enhanced learning (TEL) drivers, identified by the UCISA survey (2016), highlight meeting student expectations as key and pedagogic drivers as an essential component in developing institutional strategies.  At Bournemouth University, the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) have led on a co-ordinated initiative ‘iInnovate’ focused on individual academic staff innovation, underpinned by a TEL Toolkit which, collectively, will have impact at the institutional level.

Starting with the student ‘voice’, our partners, the Students Union, confirmed the findings of the UCISA (2016) survey.  Our analysis of TEL across the university suggests significant benefits from pockets of excellence and identifies exceptional staff with extremely ‘happy’ students; we were able to recognise these staff members for their innovation which is key to sustainability (Van der Sluis et al 2017).  However, ‘iInnovate’ seeks to facilitate the jump from individual to institutional-level innovation.  Rolled out as University wide scheme, with expectations of full staff engagement, this initiative is supported by ‘try something different’ workshops; including a University-wide set of resources delivered to all staff (a pencil case containing key messages and branded memory stick); and University-wide publicity through blogs, social media and presentations at departmental awaydays.

In the first semester, 141 Programme Leaders were involved and this led to 102 innovations by staff.  In these innovations, the pedagogic areas tackled by staff, with very similar frequencies, are: assessment; blended learning; collaboration and co-creation and feedback and feedforward.  The flipped classroom appears on the list but only in a handful of cases.  Staff rate the benefit of the innovation to students with the average score being 7.9/10.  Staff are also asked what further support is needed and this feedback is used to shape the services offered by CEL.  Finally, staff are prompted to develop their innovation with 90% identifying follow-on actions. We will report the outcome of the next tranche of innovation in our second semester.  This is the first of a two year initiative to embed an innovative ethos which is supported by an attempt to measure the learning culture and the concurrent implementation of a new virtual learning environment (VLE).  The new VLE is a strong enable of change but barriers are also present; time pressure on staff and the perceived importance of teaching.

Presented as a rich case study (Yin 2011) and drawing upon an analysis of in-depth feedback, our presentation speaks to the conference theme of sharing innovation and scaling up.  We will share our findings and reflect upon the journey towards an organisational paradigm shift in students learning.  Those attending the presentation will gain a thorough understanding of the method and the knowledge to make informed decisions on the suitability of similar initiatives at their own institution.

UCISA. 2016. TEL Surveys.  https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/tel

Van der Sluis, H., Burden, P. and Huet, I., 2017. Retrospection and reflection: Innovations in Education and Teaching International, pp.1-9.

Yin, R.K., 2011. Applications of case study research. Sage.

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