What next? Progressing learning innovations in a regional university
Innovation for learning and teaching in higher education resembles a herd-like pattern. No sooner has one institution adopted a new technology when another follows suit, creating the domino effect that is characteristic of integrating technology in modern learning and teaching environments. This snow ball effect continues until ‘the next best thing’ comes around. The University of the South Pacific (USP) is no different in its ambition to be innovative with its flexible learning programmes. As part of a socio-economic and geographically challenged region, it tries to keep abreast of new developments with varied results. How then does innovation for flexible learning occur in a regional university such as USP? Is there a method to this process? The boundaries between planned and unplanned innovation are often blurred or merged particularly when tensions develop between internal systems that lack the agility to embrace new ideas and support creativity. Using Rogers' diffusion of innovations theory and the RIPPLES model as a framework, a review of literature on learning technologies at USP has been undertaken and is presented as retrospective case studies addressing key questions around three innovations over the last 10 years. The innovations are a learning management system, an ePortfolios system and a plagiarism application. Following the analysis of these three cases, prominent features of the RIPPLES model are superimposed to determine whether innovation is planned or arbitrary. The paper concludes with a discussion on potential directions with regard to future innovations in flexible learning at USP. // Paper ID: 197
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