by BETH BECKMANN and LYNN GRIBBLE
Both theory and research on innovations tell us poor ideas may persist even when clearly better ones exist—hence the continuing predominance of QWERTY keyboards. Yet the pandemic demonstrated just how quickly and effectively new teaching practices could spread when educators openly shared knowledge and experiences.
We wondered whether the usually much slower adoption of innovations in university teaching relates to the important but time-consuming focus on scholarship—collecting data only after onerous ethics applications are approved and then enduring long journal publication or conference cycles. Even then, these scholarly processes fail to engage the fundamental principles of social learning and influence. The pandemic showed teachers learn best from other teachers whom they trust and can question, and who can offer active support in the risk-taking and transitions required to adopt any new approach.
Could we build the lessons of the pandemic into a more structured way of sharing new practices while ensuring an evidence base and maintaining ethical, scholarly responsibility?
Innovative teaching practice ensues when, guided by strong pedagogy and rigorous evaluation, educators solve learning problems in the Classroom and show that student experiences improve.
Corridors (even if virtual) are where innovators engage with colleagues who know and trust them. Sharing innovative practices gives rise to peer feedback and more diverse impact measures, inspiring fine-tuning and further advances.
Ideas become stronger the more they are tried, tested and proven adaptable in different circumstances. The Campus offers diverse opportunities to share innovations in receptive two-way forums. Simple expositions—underpinned by solid pedagogy, proven experiences and iterative enhancement—can be transformative.
The Community encompasses other teaching institutions and professional associations as well as industry and social contexts. Communication channels here extend beyond presentations, academic conferences and journal papers to blogs, podcasts and social media.
By strategically sharing practice across these four spheres of influence, educators can disseminate innovations in ways that support sound pedagogy, peer review, collaboration and professional recognition. We envision the 4Cs dissemination strategy as creative leadership—sharing recipes of inspirational teaching and encouraging others to experiment with the ingredients. Join us!
Associate Professor Lynn Gribble, School of Management & Governance, UNSW Business School, [email protected] @LynnGribble