Author: Kate Green 24th May 2016
At the end of April Brian Lamb and I spent three days on the ground at Coventry University. We were cordially invited by the great Daniel Villar-Onrubia given his interest in an EDUCAUSE Review article we wrote back in 2014 titled “Reclaiming Innovation.” I think the polemic Brian started the article with around questions of disruption and innovation are near and dear to a larger vision Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) is working through:
Today, innovation is increasingly conflated with hype, disruption for disruption’s sake, and outsourcing laced with a dose of austerity-driven downsizing. If any concept should be seen as an uncomplicated good thing in higher education, it’s innovation. Defined by a common-sense notion of “doing things better” and burnished by the sheen of dazzling technological advances, what’s not to like about innovation?
Yet as 2014 churns on, the glow is wearing off. Today, innovation is increasingly conflated with hype, disruption for disruption’s sake, and outsourcing laced with a dose of austerity-driven downsizing. Call it innovation fatigue.
How did we get here? And if innovation is still something we are interested in fostering, what are the values that should animate it? What goals and strategies should we be pursuing if we want to reclaim innovation as a positive force as higher education continues to engage with digital and networked technologies?
This beautiful framing of the issues thanks to Brian was our ticket to Coventry, and Daniel worked with us for months before the event to try and frame a 3-day residence that would serve the community. The issue with this approach is Brian and I don’t exactly have a healthy working relationship. Don’t get me wrong, we love each other, but we also struggle psychically with one another on some deep levels. And I really felt bad for Daniel given he put himself in the situation of trying to referee and direct this unstable collaborative energy. Usually when Brian and I get together for any extended period of time it proves generative, but at an immediate cost to our individual well-being. We constantly rib each other with deep questions and challenges that undergird the basic assumptions and prevailing logic of the work we do and the people we are—it’s a morbid kind of anti-therapy. A process that often feeds off our insecurities, which at times I think would make us an unstoppable comedy team if this edtech field ever does actually legit-a-demise. That said, there is no question I do my best thinking and feel most deeply attached and responsible for the work I’m doing when I’m with Brian. He feeds a crucial place in my soul, and one that makes me feel alive and scared all at once. I’m not sure exactly how to fully explain it, but I know I am the better for it—despite all the pain ?