Monday, December 29, 2014

Evaluation & Innovation: Dirk's View

The last post for 2014 belongs to Dirk Ifenthaler. Dirk and I ran into each other in Jacksonville, FL at AECT. In the midst of a hectic schedule, he took the time to share his thoughts. Although he would have liked to provide more insights, he says he does have many arguments ready for us, as necessary. Ready to hear from Dirk?
Dr. Dirk Ifenthaler

Dirk Ifenthaler’s previous roles include Professor and Director, Centre for Research in Digital Learning at Deakin University, Australia, Manager of Applied Research and Learning Analytics at Open Universities Australia, Professor for Education and Interim Department Chair at the University of Mannheim, Germany.

He was a 2012 Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, at the University of Oklahoma, USA. Dirk’s research outcomes include numerous co-authored books, book series, book chapters, journal articles, and international conference papers as well as successful grant funding in Australia, Germany, and USA . He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Springer journal Technology, Knowledge and Learning.
Technology, Knowledge and Learning:

How do we recognize innovation in teaching and learning with technology?
The major lesson to be learned from fifty years of research in the area of teaching and learning with technology is that what happens in learning environments is quite complex and multi-faceted. Students cannot learn from technology, rather, technology is a vehicle to support the processes of learning.
Due to the often very slow publication process, reports and results of innovative projects are published years later which does not facilitate the often discussed link between research and practice. The recent activities of researchers in social media help to disseminate some aspects of innovation, however, important results are often held back for publications which again slows down the innovation process.

What challenges might practitioners and researchers face when evaluating innovation? Do you have ideas for how to overcome these challenges?
There is a clear lack of empirical evidence focusing on innovation in teaching and learning with technology. We need to conduct multidisciplinary and multimethods research within innovative learning environments involving researchers, education providers, and international institutions. Clearly, practitioners and researchers need to talk to each other. One place is AECT ( which brings together these two groups at their annual International Convention.

Can you point to some promising innovations in teaching and learning?
The current debate focusing on learning analytics is very promising. However, most often learning analytics is misunderstood as being a tool for reporting educational data. The real innovation of learning analytics is the real-time support and feedback for all stakeholders involved in teaching and learning with technology. This will result in facilitation of learning processes, optimization of teaching practices and materials, as well as improved curricular designs and administrative processes.

Are there some effective research initiatives or studies our readers should examine? If not, why do you think that is the case?
Check out Technology, Knowledge and Learning ( There, I am supporting Work-in-Progress Studies and Emerging Technology Reports. These two publication types shall help to disseminate results from innovative projects already in their early phase.

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