Sustaining and Embedding Innovations - wiki JISC Sustaining and Embedding Innovations / Embedding in processes, systems, initiatives and services
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Embedding in processes, systems, initiatives and services

A key way to embed innovations is to embed them into key institutional processes, systems, initiatives and services, for example:

  • Quality assurance and improvement processes.
  • Curriculum design, approval and review.
  • Staff recognition and reward mechanisms.
  • Technical infrastructure.


There are a range of innovation projects funded under the JISC Institutional approaches to curriculum design programme which focus on technology-supported approaches to curriculum design, approval and review e.g.


  • The University of Strathclyde PiP (Principles in Patterns) project that is developing a prototype on-line expert system and linked set of educational resources that, if adopted, will improve the efficiency of course and class approval processes at the University of Strathclyde and help stimulate reflection about the educational design of classes and courses and about the student experiences they would promote. It also aims to support the alignment of course and class provision with institutional policies and strategies.


  • The University of Cardiff PALET project - the project aims to develop a revised programme approval process, which will create a more efficient and flexible approach to the design of new curricula. The redesigned process will be supported by the electronic tools emerging from Cardiff University’s Modern Working Environment (MWE). The electronic toolset will ensure that academic and support staff are supported through each stage of the programme approval process. The technology will allow the programme level and module level information that is produced during curriculum design to be clearly defined and seamlessly fed into other business application (i.e. student record system).


The above are excellent examples where the innovation is the transformation of the curriculum design process (and systems). Such projects also lay down the foundation for future innovations in learning teaching and assessment to be incorporated into these processes e.g. the expert systems can be updated to include guidance/resources on new innovations such as the use of e-portfolios or new assessment techniques.


Typical opportunities for embedding are as follows:


Embedding into academic induction, professional development programmes and performance review frameworks

An ideal time to raise aspiration and motivation amongst staff for innovations is when they undertake professional development programmes and attend induction sessions. Following the Higher Education Academy/JISC Pathfinder e-learning change programme, a number of institutions updated their staff development/induction programmes to embed e-learning/blended learning approaches to teaching, learning and assessment e.g.


A number of institutional innovation projects have resulted in the embedding of recognition and reward for development of OER (Open Educational Resources) into performance review mechanisms and professional accredited training e.g.

    • OpenExeter (University of Exeter) – a project to make available via a Creative Commons licence, a minimum of the equivalent of 360 credits of learning resources, from a range of subjects and a wide variety of mediums.
    • OCEP (University of Coventry) – an economic, effective and sustainable model for developing and managing open content using established teams.
    • OpenSTAFFS (University of Staffordshire) - process models for complete OER release cycle that include staff training.


An example of an innovation project being embedded into a staff professional development programme is the Flourish project. As a result of the project, which focused on the use of e-portfolios to support staff development, appraisal and professional accreditation, an e-portfolio has been embedded in a new lecturer training programme.


Embedding into services

Learning teaching and assessment innovations can be “embedded” into institutional services such as those provided by e-learning, blended learning, “champions”, quality enhancement, information services and library service departments. A good example of such embedding is the University of Leicester’s Carpe Diem process. At the heart of Carpe Diem is a two-day workshop in which discipline-specific course teams, in collaboration with subject librarians and learning technologists, plan, implement and review student-centred e-learning designs, focusing on learner activity, group work and assessment for learning. By the end of the second day, course teams have a blueprint and storyboard for their course, a set of peer-reviewed online learning activities (or e-tivities) running on their institutional virtual learning environment (VLE), a transferable model for e-tivity design and a practical action plan.


In order for service departments to incorporate innovations into their staff/student services, they will need to fully understand the innovations, the contexts and situations where they can be most appropriately applied and all the implementation issues that will be involved e.g. resources required for design/delivery, barriers and issues, support/training requirements and so on. Projects therefore need to supply service departments with a toolkit of resources for their innovations, for example:


    • Case studies.
    • “How-to” guidance.
    • Support and training requirements.
    • Likely implementation issues and how to overcome them.
    • Risks and minimising risks.
    • Costs/benefits.
    • Required “readiness” of staff/students.
    • Testimonials.
    • Customisable resources e.g. templates.
    • Demonstration, exemplars.
    • Research evidence and evaluation reports.
    • Papers and further information.


Taking advantage of an initiative or roll-out of a new service e.g. Lewisham piggy-backing

 It can often be pragmatic to piggy back the introduction of an innovation on other initiatives e.g. the introduction or change of VLE. Lewisham College successfully achieved this with their Making the New Diploma a Success project with the introduction of technologies such as e-portfolios.


Making full use of collected data

 Innovation projects typically incorporate some form of evaluation which will produce, for example, data collected on stakeholder experiences. Such data, e.g. data created around leaners reflecting on their experiences of courses could also be re-used as part of course review processes. 


Process Review

The Process Review infoKit provides guidance and resources to enable institutions to review, redesign and re-engineer their processes for improvement.