Beyond Prototypes ESRC TEL Programme Report

1st April 2013 - 30th September 2013

Technology-enhanced learning is a vibrant academic field but it has proved difficult to use this work to achieve significant change in the quality of teaching and learning. Beyond Prototypes investigated why this is the case, and what it takes for a project to achieve sustained impact.

The Beyond Prototypes report was produced to provide an in-depth examination of how innovation takes place in technology-enhanced learning. It sets out what can be done to improve the process of moving from academic research and prototypes to effective and sustainable products and practices.

The report shows that technological development is only a small part of the picture. Significant and lasting innovation requires long-term shifts in practice. These shifts do not just affect the classroom; they require alterations to many different elements of the education system. In order to make these changes, communities and groups need to work creatively together over time, so policymakers and funders need to plan for engagement with teams able to initiate, implement, scale and sustain long-term innovation.

An expert multidisciplinary team from the Open University carried out the research that underpins this report. ‘Innovation’ was defined as the practical implementation of new ideas and technologies with the intention of having an observable impact on teaching and/or learning.

We analysed existing reports and academic publications and selected key examples of TEL innovation for detailed study. We also carried out in- depth interviews with key figures from research and industry. Each member of the research team brought substantial personal expertise to the research process. This enabled us to set the findings within a broader context, relating them to educational development, organisational change and business management.

The OU team was also responsible for writing the final report, making recommendations to enable successful innovation in technology-enhanced learning, and relating these recommendations to case studies of successful innovations.