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What is innovation?

February 24th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I am still at CEDEFOP at a conference entitled ‘Teachers and trainers at the heart of innovation and Vocational Education and Training reforms’. Snappy!

This morning I participated in an interesting workshop where we discussed the link between innovation, education and training and teachers and trainers.

Last December when I participated in a workshop organised by Jay Cross, two fundamentally different ideas were expressed on the purpose of VET. Whilst Jay said the purpose of education and training is preparing learners to adapt to their environment, I put forward the idea that education and training should  faciliate learners in changing the working environment. That, for me, is at the heart of innovation. All too often, the idea of innovation is reduced to the implementation of new technologies.  When asked what leads to innovation, particpants in the conference in Thessaloniki said creativity. But creativity requires the ability and the autonomy to shape and change the way we live and work. Indeed in the ICT and SME project in which we particpated, we found that the use of ICT for learning in small andmedium enterprises was largely dependent on the freedom they had to organise their own work. My feeling is that all too often work organisation inhibits creativity and innovation. No amount of changes in our education systems will overcome that problem. Rather, we have to look at both education and training and autonomy and responsibility in the workplace together.

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3 Responses to “What is innovation?”

  1. Hello Graham,

    I agree with you if you say that the idea of innovation is too often reduced to the implementation of new technology. I just posted a blog-entry in my new blog, which is a reply to a keynote of Andrea Back on how Web 2.0 – culture could be seen as a disruptive innovation : , available only in german language …


  2. Ray Tolley says:

    Hi, Graham,

    I agree with your comments on innovation. It seems that some people go round and round in circles and never think outside the box, particularly at looking at other people’s perspectives. I produced a paper some time ago on innovation which, I feel, needs a much wider audience:
    www, Innovation.pdf

  3. Ray Tolley says:

    Agh! careless typo: Innovation.pdf

    Best Wishes
    Ray T

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