I am a recent Chemistry graduate from the University of Leicester, and I am currently working as an intern at the Leicester Learning Institute.
During my first week at the LLI, I was tasked with getting to know everyone at the LLI by having an informal chat around the topic of innovation in learning and teaching and what exactly that meant to each individual. Before speaking to my colleagues, my first thoughts on the topic were that an innovation had to be technology based as it seemed obvious to me that some new and different within education had to be linked to the newest technologies.
However, following conversations I had with my colleagues it became increasingly obvious that the term “innovation” cannot be confined to just one or two ideas and that something “innovative” was dependent on the individual and their own situation. Once I began seeing the topic in a different light, it reminded me of one specific lecturer who I was taught by throughout my whole programme. My lecturer preferred to keep his use of technology to the minimum, due to this his lectures consisted of simple PowerPoint slides and the use of the whiteboard whenever he needed to further illustrate his points. During this time the Department of Chemistry was part of the Reflect lecture capture pilot which was being trialled by a few lecturers and it was immediately obvious how much of a difference lecture capture had made amongst the students. As students we voiced our opinions to many lecturers about how helpful it was to be able to go back and listen to a lecture you had yesterday or last week in order to better understand topics. Now as I mentioned our particular lecturer wasn’t very “tech-savvy” however he was determined to learn and understand how he could effectively use Reflect in order to benefit our learning.
In hindsight, I now understand how this seemingly simple act of a lecturer learning how to record, edit and upload his lecture captures was undoubtedly innovative for himself. Our lecturer listened to his students and adapted his own teaching style, which I also now understand is no easy feat, in order to make sure that we were fully benefitting from his lectures.
Regardless, the idea of innovation is still very important within education as this is the prompt that results in a marked change and difference but innovation should not be the main focus when looking into new ideas and projects to implement into higher education. Some colleagues suggested replacing “innovation” with words such as “creativity” or “experimentation”, as this further feeds into the idea that it can be a small or large step forward in either learning or teaching but as long as it brings about a marked difference, that small step can definitely be categorised as “innovative”.
Throughout my short time here at the LLI is seems that the main messages from my colleagues are that innovation, in different senses of the word, is still very important. It is also evident that to tackle such big projects to change how programmes are run and also how the university is run as a whole, needs to have a massive collaborative effort backing it. The work done here at the LLI is important to ensure that the future of higher education especially at the University of Leicester, is constantly at the forefront within the sector.