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Novelty, Mutation, Newfangled Contraption

motherload shared CC by robbed

Innovation is a notoriously vague and complex term, especially in relation to higher education. And perhaps one fraught with peril...

This year's edition of the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report identifies near-term growth is likely in mobile learning and learning analytics, as well as "gamification".

Obviously, any competent innovation strategy would need to track, assess, and test these technologies and approaches.

don't panic licensed CC-BY by procsilas, on Flickr

Perils in terms of longer term effects on the web and perhaps on higher education itself -- how do you define innovation?

10 "metatrends" identified for the NMC Horizon Project 10th Anniversary Report

"The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative."

"People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to." "

Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.

I would add that it is impossible to overstate the importance of participation, perhaps best illustrated by this AP photo of Barack Obama from the summer of 2008.

Not to mention the sheer urgency of our task.

Image shared by andersabrahamsson

In a later book by Thomas Homer-Dixon, (The Upside of Down), he sees breakdown as inevitable. However, sees potential for the web as means to manage breakdown, and Wikipedia and open source as models for the type of problem-solving we need for survival.

So, while priorities could only be determined after a thorough process of consultation and assessment, a core innovation would be the implementation of...

an open publishing and collaboration environment

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Case Study: The UBC Wiki

UBC Wiki: A collaborative space for creating and sharing resources

Main space,

Documentation, can explicitly share process


  • Can be syndicated inside WebCT Vista (or most other HTML environments) via cut-and-paste code.

Keys to adoption and development

  • heaps of consultation
  • combination of structure/purpose and emergence/serendipity
  • identify and celebrate mavericks and champions
  • templates!
  • special needs may provide opportunities for development, capacity building - and partnership, ie OERu, Wikimedia

collage from

The UBC Wiki is only part of a collaboratively visioned Resource Management Framework

"...developing an open source publishing platform gradually integrate into the school’s general education curriculum the deep, critical examination of how digital tools are changing the way we think and live."

from: Luke Waltzer - CUNY Commons, OpenLab and of course UMWBlogs

UBC Blogs - content management in itself, also a presentation layer for Wiki content

  • - assemble new image sets, or even games based on this framework: see the discussion

Key strategies, questions:

  • open not obligatory, but the default
  • Know when to say no, the boutique model cannot be sustained for long
  • How to define approaches that are both agile enough for innovation and experimentation, yet respects what works in existing approaches?
  • Students with groovy design skills

Pioneer Pokemon Card by YUE


The open educational experience:

What can "digital storytelling" teach us as educators and learners? What are the new literacies?

Student as producer:

My favorite project: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem Project Page

The work of UBC Professor Jon Beasley-Murray, (Wikipedia Page, Blog)

Why does this work appeal so much?

  • fast, cheap, and out of control...
  • augments traditional literacy with new media literacy
  • results in genuinely useful public knowledge resources (perhaps the essence of open education resources)
  • students will respond to tasks that are authentic

Rather than ask, "how is the web changing the higher education?" can higher education change the web? Image via