In the pipeline: musings on innovation and evaluation

Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those
things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and
philosophy.
Erik Adigard

I haven’t posted in a while. My head is stuck in a range of things at the moment, so thought I’d share a little of what’s been going on.

One of our key staff members has left and consequently there’s a big hole where he once was – makes me wonder sometimes about the art of succession and also how timing can really suck! It’s also seen the never-ending tension between teaching and learning and technology bubble to the surface once again. More on that another time!

Which brings me to my next ongoing reflection; that of evaluation. We are currently evaluating a possible replacement for our institution’s online learning environment. For me, this has thrown up a heap of thoughts about learning management systems (aren’t they supposed to be dying?), and the evaluation process itself (and what that’s supposed to mean). I wonder if we are evaluating the right thing in fact? Is it really the technology we should be evaluating? We’ve attempted a participative evaluation process and it will be interesting to delve into the mechanisms in more depth at some point to tease out the implications of this. Already I’m seeing some aspects which require managing the tensions between organisation-level input and grassroots-operational input. Nothing new there I guess, but in terms of change mamagement, what have we learned and how far have we moved?

I’ve come across some interesting reading around this, which has led me to read more about emergent design. I began with Dave Pollard’s post on designing for emergence, which prompted me to search for readings and articles on emergent design and how it’s been used in various projects and organisations. I found a couple of projects, one run in Thailand by MIT and a Sydney based project, both of which discuss emergent design in some form. I’ve also bumped into Roger Clarke’s oft-quoted and well known work, Diffusion of innovations (3rd ed.) (1983). How relevant is Clarke’s work in our education design practices today?

The notion of emergent design (i.e. Guba and Lincoln and naturalistic inquiry) is something I am looking into as I develop my research proposal for a Masters, and it has also impacted on my view of the role of education design in learning settings. I’m about to read this article on design models as emergent features in the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (2006).

Apologies if this sounds all a bit oblique – I will be posting with more substance and detail shortly, but was keen to put some words down as to how these processes have impacted my work flows in the last few weeks.

I will be writing more about evaluation, emergent design and strategic levels of innovation in due course.

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2 comments so far

  1. Tracy Rosen on
  2. Marg on

    A great article that one Tracy 🙂
    I read that before the other one I listed and found the on-the-ground perspective to be highly approachable and I was able to see some transferability to my context too – a sign of a good program at work i think!

    What are your thoguths on the article?


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