Educational innovation in practice - Luciana Allan interview

With the pressure to be increasingly innovative, many schools are investing in technological resources, such as robotics, makerspaces or fablabs. But, what is innovation actually about? And how to tell if a school is innovative or not?

According to Luciana Allan, director of Instituto Crescer – which developed APEI 50, a free methodology for measuring educational innovation -, innovation begins by revising pedagogical practices, which, combined with technology, are able to develop not only cognitive but also socio-emotional and digital skills. And teachers also play an important role in this process.

We talked with Luciana about innovation in the educational context, teacher training and technology. Check out the interview above.

Why is it important to measure innovation in schools?

Evaluation allows us to reflect and understand the moment we are at in terms of innovation within the institution – because there are different degrees of innovation – and also to help design intervention strategies that best fit the institution and teachers profile. Measuring innovation also allows us to foster a discussion of what innovation really is in the pedagogical context and how to put it into practice.

Are innovation and technology directly and necessarily connected?

Innovation in the educational context is not a new thing, it is a necessity that comes out in this moment we are living as a society, when we are being impacted by some new technologies, such as the internet. This change is occurring in society as a whole, not just in education. All areas and even our personal lives are being impacted in some way and consequently changing a lot with these technologies.

There is a new profile of students who have new ways of learning, new interests and needs. The job market is also different, with other opportunities for employability and the possibility for young people to open their own businesses. We still have professions that are emerging and require mastery of new skills. All of that brings us to the need of rethinking education.

Technology has been a driving force, as it started the need of revising current pedagogical practices. But it is not determinant. The major issue we have today is methodological, the pedagogical practices that need to be revisited. We need teaching strategies that are best suited to meet the new student profile and help develop basic cognitive skills – such as reading and writing, logical thinking, teamwork – and also help students develop socio-emotional and digital skills.

These three competency axes are extremely important today, and all pedagogical practices must be focused on developing them. Content-based teaching, the kind that teaches everyone the same content and train students for university admission tests, does not solve the complex problems we have today. Sc to prepare the student for life, to have creativity, resilience, willingness, autonomy to seek to follow their own paths, have organization and ability to dialogue with people from different areas and cultures.

Luciana Allan

How is it possible to know if an education institution is, actually, innovating? What are the indicators considered in APEI 50’s methodology?

Within the assessment of innovative educational practices, we consider that a school is innovating when it is able to make appropriate use of technologies and is thereby able to foster the development of socio-emotional and digital skills.

It is also necessary to have a new profile of teachers, including new skills in addition to the professionals he already has, such as curriculum knowledge and student context. Teachers must be more and more open to new experiences, participate in collaborative learning with other teachers, insert themselves in digital culture, know how to curate content and use open educational resources… Finally, it is another professional profile that we need today.

Therefore, we have three pillars: proper use of technology, how they strengthen skills through educational strategies, and teachers who are able to support all of those things.

Is it possible to innovate with limited resources?

It is possible to innovate with little technological resources, although students increasingly have access to technology, even if it is a smartphone with access to public internet connection.

But, as I mentioned, what we need is to review pedagogical practices. We need to think about working more and more with active methodologies, putting the student at the center of the process, engaging them in discussions about a problem in their local community, giving them the opportunity to work as a team, do research and use technology to produce and disseminate their knowledge. So we don’t necessarily need to have technology in school: a simple smartphone or an older computer that the student owns is enough.

What results have you already had with APEI 50 in schools?

Results are amazing. I never imagined that APEI 50 would really be seen as an important tool for fostering innovation, helping to understand schools moment regarding innovation, and planning a continuing education program for teachers focused on these issues.

APEI 50 has helped these institutions to understand where they are and thereby better understand the work they need to do, as the indicators themselves already lead the way to overcome challenges. This has helped schools make more effective plans, focused on the needs of each group, while respecting the time teachers have to participate in such (often scarce) initiatives. The main gain is not only identifying the challenge, but how these educational institutions can move on.

It is easy to see how educational managers play an important role in fostering and continuing innovation initiatives, right? Learn more of this strategic participation in this post. Also get to know the Innovations Diffusion Model, which will help you understand the path of good ideas within an institution.

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