Picture of Innovative and Teaching award 2022 participants

Innovation in teaching and learning: 2022, a year to celebrate

On 28 and 29 November 2022, the ETF hosted a dynamic event, ‘Innovation in Teaching and Learning’ as part of its Creating New Learning (CNL) initiative. The two-day knowledge-sharing event, which showcased examples of best practice in educational innovation, brought together experts and partners from the ETF’s community of innovative educators and ended with a ceremony to recognise the winners of the Innovative Teaching and Learning Award.

Olena Bekh from the ETF moderated a web-streamed event on the first day and welcomed the panel and participants from, among others, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Cedefop and UNESCO, as well as the ten finalists of the 2022 ETF Innovative Teaching and Learning Award. 

'We are here because we wanted to have an opportunity to talk about ways to understand and support innovation and… to develop new tools together.' said Olena. 

The experts shared their ideas, both strategic and operational, about how innovation must be an integral part of education.

Tom Wambeke, Chief of Learning Innovation at ITCILO said that his job title and department of 20 people alone is already evidence of the impact innovation is having in teaching and learning. There is no formula for innovation, but it is instead part of a complex ecosystem. The focus must be three-pronged: teaching and learning, teacher education, and policy. Peter Wallet, UNESCO/Teachers Task Force, with a network of over 100 member states and 50 organisations, feels that for global development key infrastructure also needs to be the focus.

At the classroom level, it is about experimentation. Anastasia Economou at the European Commission shared the 'Selfie' and 'Selfie for teachers' tools. Teachers, as agents of change, can focus on their own professional learning process, as well as developing their technical skills. Tom Wambeke shared other innovations, such as physical lab which will be a safe zone to explore innovative ideas, and an annual day to 'expose innovations.' Networking, publications and ‘slow learning’ (a concept akin to ‘slow food’) are examples of practices which are interdisciplinary. This is the nature of innovation.

So, what is the most effective way to support innovation? The panel agreed that in general, it can't be predicted, it needs to be visible, and implementing good ideas involves taking risks. What is needed is a climate of innovative thinking. 

Strategic findings: supporting mainstream teaching and learning

Innovative educators need not only to have an awareness of innovation but also to engage with it and provide learning opportunities that connect innovations at both national and international levels. With this in mind, the panelists and audience shared their strategies for innovation:

  • observing, listening and using the classroom experience to see where innovation can take place;
  • using the freedom and autonomy that teachers have, despite external quality assurance processes;
  • taking risks in both curricula and time management, within the linear structures of mainstream education;
  • recognising the importance of group and team collaboration to bring about bottom-up change;
  • repackaging the same content in innovative ways;
  • recognising that students will have new skills in the future and innovation will become normal; for example quantum computing and cloud computing;
  • motivating educators to tackle the mindset gap, as well as the generational one;
  • scaling up innovation by including a focus on the middle 75% as well as the champions or the 'resistance army';
  • making big, ‘disruptive’ innovations, step by step, with iterative adjustments and a long-term vision;
  • developing partnerships between students and educators, recognising students as more competent in digital technologies. Teachers don't know everything!;
  • understanding that small innovations are also powerful;
  • recognising the unintended impact of innovation - 'intentional serendipity'.

ETF Innovative Teaching and Learning Award Winners 2022

The award ceremony was the final phase of the ETF’s call for practice in the area of innovative teaching and learning.  Its aim was to collect, identify and valorise teaching practices that support new learning dynamics and serve as inspiration for teachers, trainers and policy-makers in the EU neighbourhood and beyond.

There were an incredible 800 applications from 50 countries and the ten finalists came together at the meeting to celebrate their work.  The range of collaborative and individual projects covered mainstream education, work-based learning and training, and their unique and creative approaches meant choosing winners from the shortlist was challenging.

Out of the 10 finalists, there were three winners. The winner of the public vote, with 16,000 votes, was ‘Stem Stands Together from Turkey’. 

Dr. Selçuk Yusuf Arslan, leader of the collaborative project which brought together both Turkish students and migrants, said 'Sixteen students came together in order to make new friendships and they used STEM as a common language.'  Fabio Nascimbeni from ETF explained that, in his view, the project captured the public’s imagination because of the 'originality and impact.'

The jury then voted for a further two winners. Firstly, from Tunisia, was the project ‘Theatre to Strengthen ICT Learning’. 

Project leader and computer science teacher, Dr Hedia Mhiri Sellami, explained that the students were wary and resistant to the approach at first but with encouragement, their enthusiasm grew. She added:

“Persist, because innovation isn’t always evident at the beginning.”

The second of the jury awards went to ‘Escape Room, Education Games’ from Serbia, which develops escape room scenarios for schools based on the curriculum. Project leader, Katarina Veljkovic, explained:

“We transform[ed] a mandatory subject into a virtual game… to increase digital and literally literacy skills.”

Three winners of innovative teaching award 2022





What’s next?

Peter Wallet, from UNESCO Teachers Task Force gave the conference food for thought. He suggested that policy-making needs to allow for agency and autonomy. Teachers are best-placed people to explore the tension between a new idea and experimentation, and the future of teaching should be re-imagined so that effective innovators are developed during teacher education. As well as being teachers, they are researchers and investigators.

Following the success of the first year of the Innovative Teaching and Learning Award, the ETF has decided to make it an annual event so as to maintain the momentum of the community’s proactive collaboration and impact.  Closing the conference with the observation that the community is a tool that can also create tools, the ETF’s Olena Bekh left participants with an uplifting thought:

“Our community’s innovations could be a real game changer!”

Read more about the varied and inspiring innovative practices.

To follow the Community of Innovative Educators’ review of 2022 and look ahead to 2023, please follow the webinar on Open Space on 2 December 2022.

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