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Becoming an Innovative RTO
How can you change the culture and the environment within your RTO to enable innovative staff working practices and innovative approaches to training and assessment?
Tina Seelig’s Innovation Engine provides us with a useful framework to consider how to create these types of environments and encourage innovative practice.
The three categories listed around the outside of the model describe the characteristics of an innovative environment. These are habitat, resources and culture.
The middle 3 factors – imagination, knowledge & attitude are the elements of creativity and innovation that we can each cultivate within ourselves to develop more capacity for innovation and creativity.
There is no right or wrong place to start in this model. Each characteristic is linked to another. So let’s work through each area to identify opportunities to cultivate a more conducive environment for innovation and creativity in your RTO.
1. Build a habitat that supports innovation
Think about your RTO’s working environment. What do the physical spaces look like? Do they facilitate collaborative and creative learning? The way we think influences the environment we build for learning and in turn this environment impacts our imagination so it is important to think creatively when constructing learning and working spaces. If you operate a campus based RTO do you still train in classrooms that are set up to suit didactic teaching styles or is your focus now on the learner and do your teaching spaces reflect this? All learning spaces (including online spaces) can be set up to support innovation by being flexible and adaptable, fun and colourful – the place where innovation and creativity can happen. Similarly, our work spaces can be set up to support collaborative practices or keep us apart and perpetuate an isolated, independent style of working. The way we set up the environment communicates something to those that use it. Is your environment facilitating a collaborative and creative approach, or is the message more about quiet, focused and perhaps individual study. Is there an opportunity in your RTO to make your habitat more conducive to innovation?
2. Harness resources
The second factor to consider is your resources. Think broadly here. Resources are more than money. Innovative organisations find ways to harness a broad range of resources. How effectively is your RTO in tapping into the wealth of resources around it? These might include: your stakeholders, natural resources in your local environment and community partnerships. Bring the outside world into your RTO as much as possible and foster creativity as part of learning. Are you in a position to enter into mutually beneficial partnerships that will foster open thinking and creativity and enrich the lives of your students and staff?
3. Create supportive cultures
Culture can simply be defined as the way things are done and the way people are expected to behave. Culture develops over time and is sometimes described as the personality of the organisation. If we expect to see innovative practice from students and staff we must create cultures that set positive challenges, support collaboration, encourage shared and public teaching practice and allows exploration of new ideas without the fear of failure and ridicule.
4. Develop our capacity for imagination
We all have the capacity for imagination but often our own experience of learning and working discourages creative thought. Many of our teaching methodologies and work practices are shaped around the premise of ‘the one right answer’ which teaches us to use logic to solve problems. To develop our capacity for imagination we need to learn to reframe problems, connect and combine ideas in new ways and challenge our assumptions. For example, problem based and experiential learning strategies encourage learners to engage with the world and construct their own meaning. Why not extrapolate this approach to assessment – let’s move from regurgitation of facts to application of imagination and creativity! This is where you can use the innovations framework we spoke about last month.
5. Develop knowledge
The more you know the more you have to work with. Knowledge fuels imagination. Ensure your RTO supports ongoing professional development for all staff and encourages people to share their newly gained knowledge across the whole RTO so that everyone benefits
6. Adopt a positive and confident attitude
Staff need to feel motivated, inspired and confident to create and come up with the next great idea. Encourage your staff to work with all the resources available to them and find ways to address gaps, and effectively use these resources. Individual attitudes towards innovation and creativity collectively add up to the culture of innovation and creativity in the RTO. The more we motivate, inspire and encourage individuals to be creative the more we build a culture of innovation and creativity across the whole RTO.
Would you like some help with this?
We have a self assessment checklist that can help you determine your readiness for innovative practices.