The the year , I thought that innovation will

The inspector as an
innovator

My experience with
innovation

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My first experience with
innovation was related to technology    . Under
the guise of innovation and bringing something new to the classroom , I thought
of using computers to engage students . I have to admit that my choice was not
based on any  study  or method , I just wanted to bring about
interest and motivation to my learners .  I am not the kind of teacher who does the same
thing all the times , I plunged into using technology in the classroom . I
brought some videos , songs , pictures , and I used PowerPoint presentations .  At the outset ,my choice to incorporate
technology in the classroom was ill informed and thus did not yield good
results , things failed most of the times because of time management . As I
matured in the profession of teaching,  my fascination with change and innovation grew
and I started  taking risks and
borrowing  some innovative practices  notably by networking with teachers from
different corners of the globe ,  from my
colleagues , my own readings and some seminars that I attended .

In 2012  I attended a 
2-day seminar conducted by a Scottish free lance  educator 
in the premises of CREFOC Nabeul .It was mainly about integrating some
applications in the classroom , namely 
audacity , photo story  ,
didapages and movie maker  . One year
later,  I attended   a
3-day seminar  at the premises of the
British council  . The main theme was  about  using
learning technologies in the classroom .

 

My expectations

 

When I heard about the  three main  tasks of an inspector at the beginning of the
year , I thought that innovation will be somehow related to preparing and  conducting training sessions    about 
integrating technology in the classroom .

 

What I learned

 

In this module Professor
Hamouda Klibi introduced a range of 
meanings of innovation  most of
which with a philosophical temperament 
that has puzzled most of the group members . During two days he
bombarded us with information that he felt necessary and crucial to convince us
of the importance of innovation in the field of education .

 

What is innovation ?

 

Professor Hamouda Klibi
started the module by making us distinguish between                ” novation” and “innovation” two
French words  which are sometimes used
interchangeably but in reality they have different meanings . The former means introducing
something completely  new , the latter
means changing , adding , and improving something that already exists . In
English , however , there is only one word which is derived from Latin . The
Oxford advanced Learner’s Dictionary 
defines innovation as follows :

1-   the introduction of new things , ideas or ways of
doing something

2-   a new idea or way of doing something , etc. that has
been introduced or discovered .

Technically speaking , innovation
is defined  merely as introducing
something new .

According to Michael
Vance  , “innovation is the creation of
the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way  “.

From a  general educational view , innovation can
appear as a new pedagogic theory , methodological approach , teaching technique
, instructional tool , learning process or institutional structure , when these
changes are elaborated and implemented they may have a positive impact on
teaching and learning .

Innovation can be directed
toward progress in one , several , or all aspects of the educational system ,
theory and practice , curriculum development , teaching and learning , teacher
training ,and technology .

It is clear that
educational innovation concerns all stakeholders from policy makers , to
inspectors , teachers and students and  hence requires their active involvement and
support . To raise the quality of teaching , we want to enhance the teacher
education , professional development and life-long learning to include
attitudes , dispositions , teaching style , motivations , skills, competencies
, self-assessment , creativity , and capacity to innovate .

Whatever the meaning of
innovation , be it incremental or radical , It is clear that it is of paramount
importance .

 

Why Innovate ?

 

“Necessity is the mother
of invention” Plato

 

It is widely believed that
innovation is an indispensable weapon for any society to survive and
thrive  , and meet the challenges of the
fast- changing and unpredictable world. It nourishes society , and  in turn , it is nourished by society .

Put simply , any human
activity whether it is educational , industrial or business needs constant
innovations to remain sustainable . “Innovations keep species evolving so they
can better compete for survival ” Hoffman and Holzhutter , 2012 .

In essence , Innovations
in education are of utmost importance , because education plays a crucial role
in creating a sustainable future . Lack of innovations in education  can have serious repercussions not only on  inspectors , teachers and students but also on
the whole society .

Driven by the necessity of
change ,and the dissatisfaction with the status quo in our education system ,
innovation is no longer a luxury , it is rather a must  if we want to improve the current situation ,
and if we want education to have a wider impact on the whole society .

What are the prerequisites
of innovation ?

 

 

For innovation to be
efficient , effective and successful , it requires willingness , ability and
knowledge from the part of the innovator . Innovation needs to be backed by all
the society  to function properly and
effectively .Political , cultural , social and economic effects are important
to make innovation yield good results , they are not only interdependent but
they are also interrelated .  Though some
significant changes left a drastic  mark
on education , it seems we placed too much focus on accountability and
assessment and lost sight of many other critical aspects of education .

Nowadays , innovation is
mainly associated with technology .While it is true to say that wondrous  technology is undeniably a powerful tool that
can have tremendous effects  on teaching
and learning ,  it will not do the hard
task demanded of teachers and learners  .
It is the task of teachers to harness the power of technology to the benefits
of  students and to leverage this
powerful tool.

Broadly speaking ,  educators  commonly apply the term ” innovative”  to almost any  improvement to classroom practices .The
distinction between innovation and improvement lies in the significance of
impact and scale of change . These personal initiatives from teachers should be
supported and enhanced because they can make considerable contributions to
educational quality .

The roots of learning
efficiency lie not only in innovative technologies and teaching alone but even
more in uncovering potential capacities for learning in our students , their
intellectual , emotional ,  and psychological
spheres .

 

Effects of technology in
education

A cornucopia of software
have become ubiquitous , in addition to the emergence of tablets , computers ,
smart phones , interactive whiteboards . Technology should be used to boost
academic productivity . The pillars and building blocks of twenty first century
learning according to Linda Baer and James Mcormick ( 2012 ) are tools ,
programs , digital resources , games and simulations which are exclusively
technological innovations.  ICT has great
potential for supporting innovative pedagogies, but  it is not a magic ingredient . Evidently ,
before we embark on using computers in class we have to ask first what
technology is going to add , is it a matter of 
just changing the pace , or is it just for the sake of bringing
something new . How to use them efficiently to improve learning outcomes .

 

Technocentric syndrome

 

Technology is not a magic
wand ,  it is only a means , an
instrument , a tool , for an innovative teacher and learner . It will not usher
students to the leading edge . Technology by itself is not curative . It can
imperil creativity .When we become overly dependent on technology we risk
washing away human interaction and communication .

A blend of technology and
human interactions

If the society supports
innovation in education , then its educational system will continuously and
effectively evolve and progress  .If it
does not , education will stagnate and produce mediocre results or
outcomes  . Innovation is linked to
creativity , risk –taking and 
experimentation. Innovation is not about talking the talk but walking
the walk .

Every cloud has a silver
lining , fortunately . The educational system must produce innovations at all
levels  creative, critical thinking ,
self-sufficient , life-long-learners , problem solvers  , and workers .Though innovation is often a
spark originated in the mind  of  a bright person , it needs an environment
that can nourish the fire .This environment is formed and fed by educational
institutions , societal culture , and advanced economy  .In Shangai 
, China  every  low-performing school is assigned a team of
master teachers and administrators  to
provide weekly guidance and mentorship on everything from lesson plans  to school culture ( Editopia , 2012 ) .  We have to think of growing local innovations
, and take advantage of the best international theories and practices . Countries
like Finland ,Singapore , HonKong , and South Korea  consider education to be the best way to
improve their economy , and it has worked .

My reflection

As future inspectors , we
are cognizant of the fact that education at all levels critically needs renewal
. It has almost become platitudinous to speak of the winds of change in
education  such as the emergence of the
so called “knowledge society” ‘ , yet more than six decades after independence
, we realize that the actual pace of education , innovations and their
implementation is too slow as shown by the learning outcomes of most students
in the tertiary education , which are far from what is needed in today’s world
.

There is irrefutable
evidence that our educational system has made limited improvement  in terms of outcomes over  the last two decades . It is worth mentioning
that our country has made great strides in terms of quantity , but in terms of
quality we  are moving at a snail’s
pace  , as a matter of fact we are still
lagging behind  despite the huge efforts
from the major players in the education system . Our education system is in
dire need of new ideas that  shatter the
performance expectations of today’s status quo , to make a meaningful impact .

It is central for us to
make our education system consistently innovative and focus educational
innovations on raising the quality of learning at all levels . Although there
is a great deal of continuous educational research and innovation , we have not
actually seen discernable  improvements
in terms of educational outcomes . Suffice it to mention a few facts .  International examinations PISA ,  TIMMS , PIRLS keep revealing disappointing
results . Each year about 100 000 students drop out of school , a large number
of university graduates are unemployed .No one is pleased with our educational
outcomes despite incredible investments , we still lack fundamental insights .
It seems like education is on the crisp of a complete revolution to revamp the
whole system . A word of caution here , I am not saying that the situation is
bleak , as a future inspector I should not be oblivious to the problems and
barriers that hinder  progress . If we
want to seed new strategies and have our quota  we have to know about what has been achieved
up to now , the barriers and the aspirations .

 

Innovation can be mandated from above by policy makers
and at other times  initiated by  classroom practitioners trying something new
to make their students more active or their lessons more effective . Such
innovations can appear in a variety of guises . 
Ultimately however , it is the teacher who decides what innovations find
their way in the classroom , how new methods are implemented , new technologies
deployed and new textbooks used. Innovations can and should be supported from
above and forced through by clear policies , and professional development
initiatives, but if teachers have not fully embraced the concepts , then they
will not reap the fruit of innovation and it will ultimately die .