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Graduation 2008

Innovation in my organisation

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Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:36

My context is as an OU Tutor so my organisation is The Open University. In particular my work is for the Faculty of Health and Social Care tutoring groups at level 2 and level 3.

 On the basis of my experience:

  1. Do you sense that your innovations (as supporters of learning) have been valued, encouraged, supported?

I wanted to create a revision app for mlearning but the time it would take to get it authorised and functioning would be unhelpful for my students, so instead I set it up as a group interactive study aid on Google Drive (Google Docs as it was called then). This is similar for all large organisations; that ideas need to be verified at several levels. Additionally setting it up as a free app for iPhone entails Apple verification. Therefore my idea was a long term plan not really feasible in the short term. The idea was supported in principle.

  1. What evidence do you have to support your view?

Research with Apple and researching how to transform Word documents into web pages and then converting them into apps. Discussions with fellow tutors and previous Staff Tutor (line manager).

From the perspective of my context:

  1. How widespread is innovation in your organisation?

Ideas are welcomed e.g. regional staff training events have displays of published works and ask for contributions to future displays. I feel this is to inspire and motivate action rather than to ‘sell’ to existing employees or to provide a self-congratulatory exhibit. Staff newsletters also ask for contributions - however this may be more likely to fill spaces.

  1. Are there policies or statements that relate to innovation? If yes, how are they implemented?

TutorHome is similar to a human resources tool including policies. In researching innovation I came up with an award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year given to an OU Tutor in 2012 by Times Higher Education. There is an OpenLearn module called Innovative Innovation and a paper on Health innovation (2014), which makes me wonder if it’s a buzz word. However this journal article from 2003 has convinced me that innovation and innovative work is not the latest trendy phrase, “HR policy rewarded non-managerial employees for innovation, whilst managerial staff were expected to do so as a matter of course” (The Open University Business School, 2003). This relates to the teaching award above, and when I was a senior manager in local government – where managers motivate staff by recognising their achievements.

  1. What implications, if any, does this have for your attitude towards innovation?

It makes me question the genuineness of innovation awards and job descriptions that encourage staff to be innovative.  H817 Openness and innovation in elearning is the updated version of H807 Innovations in eLearning, which replaces H802 Applications of Information Technology (OU Knowledge Network, 2007). Modules need to be current so are updated regularly to keep them fresh and relevant, utilising latest learning technology – so in this way they are innovative. Therefore as the primary purpose of my organisation is learning, the OU is innovative.



The Open University Business School, (2003) http://www.open.ac.uk/business-school/research/publications/2003/supporting-innovation-through-hr-policy-evidence-uk

OU Knowledge Network (2007) http://kn.open.ac.uk/news.cfm?newsitemid=2374&method=NewsItemDisplayFull&CFID=7132685&CFTOKEN=73420011

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Alan Clarke

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Hi Amanda

Interesting to see your analysis of OU





Graduation 2008

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I have a happy addiction to the OU so I really needed to stand back and find a critical eye, which is always useful and healthy to do smile 

Linda Audsley

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agree with you about OU and innovation...I have a clear memory of attending a meeting with about 4 other people where the OU rep was talking about the future of electronic learning - highly innovative stuff. This was back in 1989/90 when we used DOS to get through 'gateways' on the embryonic web!