Innovation definition one [update-2021]
The term innovation is too often used irreverently, to the extent that it risks being devoid of real meaning.
Consequently, it is important to clarify the way innovation is defined and used here.
Innovation is “creation and implementation of new processes, products, services and methods of delivery, which result in significant improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness or quality of outcomes” (ANAO, 2009:1).
Thus, innovation may include significant improvement or more transformative approaches. In defining innovation, the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development draws from the OECD (2005:46), defining innovation as the “implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service)… or a new organisational method” (see also DECD, 2010:3)
Producing better outcomes is, of course, the ultimate purpose for all innovation (OECD, 2005).
However, more than simply being new, Cohen & Ball (2006:19, 2007; Towndrow, Silver & Albright, 2010) emphasize the need for innovations to be a “departure from current practice”.
This is the first genuinely difficult obstacle to engaging in innovation, as it requires thought extending beyond the realm of prior experience, indeed, beyond the established paradigm.
While incremental reforms in education often install new practices or structures, innovation demands the initiation of something that undeniably diverges from established norms.
The difficulty in initiating innovation is further compounded by the uncertainty inherent in the process (OECD, 2005).
The DECD Research and Innovation Framework, while acknowledging other possible approaches to innovation, indicates that innovation within the state’s public education system can be facilitated by building on research to “improve educational outcomes, well-being and engagement to support diverse groups of children and students” (DECD, 2010:3).
The Framework explains that innovation may occur through the development of “new approaches through continuous improvement processes, adapting ideas from elsewhere or futures-oriented and transformative change” (DECD, 2010:3).
Innovation in the context of schools may involve change in the ways work is organised among teachers, change in the administrative or organisational activities of schools, the implementation of new teaching methods, assessment tools or curriculum content, or even the installation of technologies to benefit learning and build students’ creative potential.