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Innovation in education technology: What is the point? Is immersive education the next step?

REM - Research on Education and Media
Vol. 8, N. 1, Year 2016
ISSN: 2037-0830 – DOI: 10.1515/rem-2016-0001
Innovation in education technology: What is the point?
Is immersive education the next step?
Andrea Garavagliaa, editor
a University of Milan - Bicocca, Italy,,
Keywords: innovation, immersive education, learning analytics, augmented learning, augmented reality, virtual
What is innovation? What is innovative? These terms reveal interesting implications when coupled with the teaching
and learning process. The introduction of new technologies in teaching has often been considered innovative, but over
time, first experiences have revealed that it is necessary to consider the entire educational system and outcomes to
understand the terms of real change.
1. What is innovative?
Richard Lyons, an economist, describes innovation as ‘fresh thinking that creates value’1. The creation of a value is
particularly important in education because we can assume that the value created is the difference between the previous
state and the final state that has resulted as the effect of an educational process.
Rick Miller, President of Olin College of Engineering, offers this definition: ‘Innovation may then be defined as the
process of having original ideas and insights that have value, and then implementing them so that they are accepted and
used by significant numbers of people. By this definition, a major innovation is one that is so successful that soon after
its introduction few people an even remember what life was like before the innovation was introduced’ (2011, p. 2). The
definition provided by Miller is very interesting because it emphasizes the fact that the lack of dissemination of a good
solution actually implies a type of futility relative to another less-good solution that has been widely applied in the
teaching community.
Peter Drucker (2002) states, ‘Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, whether in an existing business,
a public service institution, or a new venture started by a lone individual in the family kitchen. It is the means by which
the entrepreneur either creates new wealth-producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential
for creating wealth’.
Razeghi focuses on the needs of a group as a starting point to work on an innovation that helps to meet the said
needs. In a book on generation of ideas, he stated, ‘innovation is not the result of thinking differently. It is the result of
thinking deliberately (in specific ways) about existing problems and unmet needs’. (2008, p. 24).
The aspect of well-being is highlighted by Barack Obama; in fact, his definition of innovation is ‘the creation of
something that improves the way we live our lives’.2 Applied to education, this means that novelty is recognised in
terms of an improvement in the conditions for participation by each member of a group or community, regardless of
whether they perform the role of a teacher or a learner.
1 Something new under the sun: A special report on innovation. (2007, October 13). The Economist. Retrieved from
2 Business Week’s “In” subsection, p. 6, November 2007
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Innovation in education technology: What is the point? Is immersive education the next step?
Innovation is the result of a process of creation and several research reports have emphasised it clearly. One of the
most interesting works is a study conducted on training models for innovators, conducted by Tony Wagner (2012): he
focuses on the importance of creativity in innovation, so that he identifies the essential elements of innovation as
‘motivation’, ‘expertise’ and mostly ‘critical thinking’. In another research conducted by General Electric in 2011, a
thousand of senior business executives were interviewed about innovation. One of the most interesting results was that
69% of them agreed that currently, innovation is driven more by people’s creativity than by high-level scientific
2. What is not innovative?
Starting from these definitions, it is interesting to explore the different ways of conceiving innovation in teaching and
learning using new technologies. The basic elements involved are two: the technologies introduced and the
methodologies proposed. The combination of these two elements can determine the definition of the following three
A new technology that does not involve a change in methodology: generally, this innovation does not affect learning
because the experience is the same, and the technology can help increase the motivation of the learners using it in the
initial period to explore the new instrumentation;
A methodological innovation built using proven technologies over time: this solution can affect learning;
An innovation that affects both methodologies and the technology. In this case, if the changes introduced meet at
least part of the training needs, one can get interesting results in terms of both learning and motivation.
This categorisation could seem like a simplification considering the complicated realities of the different educational
systems, but it may be useful to identify and distinguish three sets of problems:
The first problem is to avoid doing the same things with a new instrument. It is not uncommon to observe training
proposals characterised by fixation on an old pattern that is repeated using different technologies. In this case, it is
believed that the introduction of new technological solutions can result in improvement of learning.
The second issue is how to do new things with a new tool: when it becomes evident that the simple introduction of a
technology is not enough, one faces the need to find an innovation in teaching method. It is a complex operation as
effectiveness is strongly connected to the training needs of the group of learners.
The third problem concerns universality: hardly any innovation in education is universal; often, the methodological
proposals are not accepted by all recipients alike.
Using another perspective, it is also a question of probability: how to maximise the probability of improving
learning? One possible option lies in the future application of the results of research related to learning analytics (Elias,
2011; Fritz, 2010) or evidence-based education (Hattie, 2009) as an innovation that can introduce new operating
standards in teaching design.
3. The next trend in learning with technologies: augmented reality, virtual reality and Internet of
In studying the innovation criteria of a training process, I tried to imagine which of the new technologies that are
spreading in recent times produce the conditions necessary to get an innovation in methodology, especially in terms of
strengthening the learning conditions. I suggest herein a proposal built on the basis of three major innovations that are
entering the mass market as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality and Internet of Things (IoT).
These three innovations are strongly related to the possibility of enriching the learning experience
involving the learner, so as to obtain an immersive learning situation.
3.1. Learning with AR and mixed reality
AR ‘refers to all cases in which the display of an otherwise real environment is augmented by means of virtual
(computer graphic) objects’ (Milgram & Kishino, 1994, p. 2). The term Mixed Reality was proposed to highlight the
use of devices that involve the merging of real and virtual worlds, but it is used less often than AR because the
evolution of technology is substantially making the distinction less significant. Probably, Considering that Microsoft
promotes this distinction by proposing HoloLens as a mixed reality system, it could spread the mixed reality concept
using systems that cover the entire field of vision (such as helmets and visors) and AR with part-coverage field of vision
(such as tablets or smartphones).
AR/mixed reality can provide a learning experience enriched with content and connections to other experiences
linked to elements that are observed by the learner in the surrounding environment. It is an educational solution that
could spread widely because the devices necessary to be able to materialize these applications, such as modern
smartphones or tablets, are already available on the market at affordable prices.
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Innovation in education technology: What is the point? Is immersive education the next step?
3.2. Immersive and situated learning with virtual reality
Virtual reality is a way to create a duplicate of an environment with a specific technology that can be explored and
interacted with by a person (Ausburn & Ausburn, 2004). It is possible to create an imaginary world or reproduce a real
One of the most interesting environments is AltspaceVR (, an application to create immersive
experience, natively compatible with the leading virtual reality devices that are distributed from this year (2016) on the
market. It can completely substitute a videoconference system. This application has the ability to create low-cost
scenarios, allowing those involved in education to implement early solutions, managing to maintain this return on
Both AR and virtual reality allow the use of input methods with advanced commands based on the detection of
movement of the body (such as Kinect and Leap Motion) or MOCAP (Motion CAPture) systems, more evolved as
Perception Neuron. The use of input systems that allow the learner to interact with the world in a natural way, without a
keyboard, mouse or gamepad, can increase the levels of immersion and establish situated learning episodes (Rivoltella,
2013) or authentic scenarios wherein the subjects are able to operate very similarly to the real situation.
3.3. Adaptive learning with IoT
IoT is a system of interrelated ‘things’ such as devices, objects, people, machines or animals. Each of them can
communicate with the others in the same place or through the Internet. Every ‘thing’ has an Internet Protocol address,
so schools and institutes can keep track of information and manage and analyse big data on students both online and in
their presence. The next challenge would be to understand how and what data to analyse in order to obtain reports and
dashboards that provide frameworks and indications of the progress of educational processes.
Another way to use IoT is to exploit the information provided by the different objects to build adaptive learning
processes. All projects based on methods such as mastery learning, individualisation or customisation can get additional
benefit from the exploitation of the data recorded by the various interconnected objects. The new challenge here will be
to be able to easily implement the programming of different combinations of teaching steps.
IoT could be also useful for students with special needs, e.g., through devices that change the mode of input or
output in the vicinity of students with particular disabilities.
Naturally, these are only hypotheses and business ideas that both the world of education and the research world can
develop in order to build learning situations that present new opportunities previously unfeasible.
Ausburn, L.J., Ausburn F.B. (2004). Desktop virtual reality: a powerful new technology for teaching and research in
industrial teacher education. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 41 (4), pp. 33–58.
Cachia R., Ferrari, A., Ala-Mutka K. M., Punie, Y. (2010). Creative Learning and Innovative Teaching: Final Report on
the Study on Creativity and Innovation in Education in the EU Member States. Publications Office of the European
Drucker, P. (2002, August), The discipline of innovation. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
Elias, T. (2011). Learning analytics: Definitions, processes and potential. Unpublished Internal Whitepaper of
Athabasca University, Canada.
Fritz, J. (2010). Classroom walls that talk: Using online course activity data of successful students to raise self-
awareness of underperforming peers. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(2), 89–97.
General Electric (2011). GE Global Innovation Barometer 2011. Retrieved from
Hattie, J. A. C. (2009). Visibile Learning. A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London:
Milgram, P., & Kishino, F. (1994). A taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Transactions on Information
Systems, (12). Retrieved from
Miller, R. K. (2011, May). How do you recognize and cultivate potential innovator?. Paper presented at Olin College.
Retrieved from
Razeghi, A. (2008). The riddle: where iedas come from and how to have better ones. San Francisco: Jossey-bass.
Rivoltella P. C. (2013). Fare didattica con gli EAS. Brescia: La Scuola.
Something new under the sun: A special report on innovation. (2007, October 13). The Economist. Retrieved from
Wagner, T. (2012). Creating Innovators. The making of young people who will change the world. New York: Scribner.
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... When the search titles related to the use of technology by the fine arts teachers in this study are examined, it can be seen that the study title is most similar to the field of research. The importance of introducing innovative technologies in the education process related to the field in determining research topics is undisputed in the literature (Garavaglia, 2016;Ilomaki & Lakkala, 2018). (7) 7 Ministry of Education Science Of Ukraine (5) 5 University of Murcıa (4) 4 South Ukrainian National Pedagogical University Named After K D Ushynsky (3) 3 Technıcal University Kosice (3) 3 Tomsk Polytechnic University (3) 3 Unıversıdade De Lisboa (3) 3 Anadolu University (2) 2 Charles University Prague (2) 2 Chulalongkorn University (2) 2 Huanghe Scı Technol Coll (2) 2 Jiang Xi Sci Technol Normal Univ (2) 2 Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogıcal University (2) 2 Linyi University (2) 2 Marmara University (2) 2 Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia (2) 2 Palacky University Olomouc (2) 2 Ryazan State University (2) 2 Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics Humanities (2) 2 Technical University of Civil Engıneering of Bucharest Utcb (2) 2 ...
... It has been found that many universities from different regions of the world are working. When we look at the work conducted in Kazakhstan, the emphasis has been placed on science and art being intertwined with technology by introducing innovative technologies in the educational process related to scientific work (Garavaglia, 2016;Ilomaki & Lakkala, 2018); scientific research to examine age characteristics of preschool children from the prism of psychological science (Ansari & Pianta, 2019); studies that reveal the foundations of the organisation of classes visually and theatrically, play-based and constructive activities (Tarman & Tarman, 2011;Yan, 2019) are observed in kindergarten. Table 7 includes the list of 20 authors who made the most research. ...
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The aim of this study was to determine the examination of the researches about the use of technology by fine arts teachers. The study was conducted according to the content and citation analysis model. In this context, Web of Science (WOS) Core Collection indexes were included. In the document scanning in the WOS environment, the keywords ‘Fine arts’, ‘Teachers’ and ‘Technology’ were searched. In total, 169 documents were examined and analysed one by one. They were analysed according to year, document type, WOS content category, country, source title, organisation and citation, authors, publication language and categories. As a result of this research, the first study was conducted in 2004, while the most studies were conducted in 2016. It was concluded that the published studies had the most Proceedings papers as the document type. The area where the studies of fine arts teachers on the use of technology are mostly carried out is Education Educational Research, according to the Web of Science content category. The most researched title in the distribution according to the Source Title field is ‘International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences on Social Sciences and Arts.’ The university with the most studies is Kazan Federal University. The 19 authors who conducted the studies have a large number of studies in this field. It was concluded that other authors had only one study in the field. Again, when we look at the distribution of the countries and documents according to the language of writing, the country with the most studies is China and the language of the documents is English. The area continues to evolve. Keywords: Fine arts, technology, analysis, teachers, education, communication.
... Innovation in developmental processes implies the elevation of the students' minds to a superior level which will allow them to become critical in their own learning and their own context. Because of this, it is understood that innovative education not only facilitates the teaching-learning processes, but also forms individuals capable of answering global demands [13][14][15][16][17]. Thus, training in energy sustainability at all levels of society has become necessary for our present and future as humans, and as part of this process of transformation, the MOOCs were designed to train for energy sustainability. ...
... First of all, analyzing the demographic data from the participants that signed up for the four first basic MOOCs an did answer the survey; it can be observed that many people were interested in this kind of knowledge, 26.6% were from High School, and 4.1% was people from secondary school and people that has no formal education. Therefore, there is motivation from young people (age from [13][14][15][16][17][18] to learn topics about Sustainability, and the MOOCs that were designed could be an efficient strategy to deliver this knowledge. This is the reason why the people that designed the MOOCs wanted to add activities with innovation such as gamification or challenge-based learning, to engage more people. ...
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This research project analyzes the motivation and learning perceived by the participants in four Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that use innovative education strategies in order to train the community in Education for Sustainability. These MOOCs were delivered during 2017 and the study forms part of the subproject “Open, Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Innovation to Train in Energy Sustainability through MOOCs”, which was offered in the portal of the Binational Laboratory for Intelligent Energy Sustainability Management and Technology Training. The method utilized was mixed, with a triangulation design approach according to the convergence model. This method consisted of two phases: the first being quantitative, with an online survey designed by experts in a Likert type scale, and the second being qualitative, in which valuations of the users were collected through diverse instruments such as focus groups and observations. The results obtained demonstrate the advantages of designing MOOCs that make use of innovative tools, in order to engage the students as much as possible, and the collateral impact on the development of digital abilities and skills in addition to the learning acquired with respect to sustainability.
... Several ILE applications have been launched that allow low cost scenarios to be created, requiring minimal expertise and are easy to maintain (Garavaglia, 2016). ILEs require effective leadership capability that can transcend the barriers and resistance of change (from staff and students), facilitate innovative thinking in how to best integrate such pedagogy, and sincere and authentic relationships with key stakeholders. ...
Immersive learning environments require effective facilitators to enable student learning. In current literature on immersive learning, there is limited insight on the role that teacher behaviors have on fostering learning. Despite this, there is considerable literature on the role of the teacher as a leader in contemporary classrooms. This chapter focuses on the authentic leader behaviors in teachers and how this may affect student success. While student learning can be viewed from many perspectives, this chapter focuses on three perspectives: affective, cognitive, and pedagogical. The literature enables the establishment of the belief that teachers who embody authentic leader behaviors are likely to be more successful in facilitating student learning within an immersive learning environment. Implications and future research opportunities are also highlighted as a result of the theory generation in this chapter.
... Con respecto a la innovación en metodologías activas, es importante reseñar que el desarrollo de procesos didácticos y metodológicos innovadores es uno de los mecanismos más efectivos para producir cambios en los procesos de enseñanzaaprendizaje, como se ha apuntado en recientes estudios e informes (Garavaglia, 2016;King y Baatartogtokh, 2015). La investigación y experimentación en nuevas formas de hacer más accesible, comprensivo y competencial el currículo es una de las principales competencias docentes. ...
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En este artículo se presenta un estudio en el que se analizan las concepciones del alumnado universitario sobre la innovación educativa a partir de su proceso de trabajo en el prácticum de Pedagogía en la UNED. La muestra participante está constituida por 170 estudiantes pertenecientes a cuarto curso del Grado en Pedagogía durante el curso académico 2016/17. La investigación se ha desarrollado desde una doble vertiente cualitativa: análisis documental de la memoria final del trabajo de la asignatura y el análisis de foros de discusión de la plataforma informática de la UNED. Para ello, se ha empleado el programa Atlas-Ti y del enfoque reticular-categorial del análisis de redes sociales con la aplicación de UCINET. Los resultados más significativos muestran que los cinco ámbitos en los que los estudiantes han identificado y propuesto un mayor número de actuaciones son los siguientes: convivencia escolar (n = 56), acoso (n = 93), formación del profesorado (n = 87), metodologías activas (n = 88) y educación en valores (n = 32). En este sentido, el estudio aporta una visión alternativa a la innovación a través de la mirada del alumno del último curso del Grado en Pedagógica como consecuencia de sus prácticas profesionales.
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This report is the final report of a project on ‘Creativity and Innovation in Education and Training in the EU27 (ICEAC)’ carried out by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) under an Administrative Agreement with DG Education and Culture, Directorate A, Unit A3. This project aims to provide a better understanding of how innovation and creativity are framed in the national and/or regional education objectives and applied in educational practice at primary and secondary school level. It collects and analyses the present state of affairs in the Member States as regards the role of creativity and innovation in primary and secondary schools. The project started in December 2008 and the following methodological steps were taken: • A scoping workshop (held in Seville on 23-24 February 2009); • A literature review on the role of creativity and innovation in education by IPTS;1 • A report on the analysis of curricula by empirica;2 • A report on a teachers' survey conducted by IPTS and European Schoolnet and analysed by IPTS with the support of the University of Seville; • Interviews with educational stakeholders by Futurelab and IOE • A report on good practices by Futurelab and IOE • A validation workshop (held in Seville on 1-2 June 2010); • This final report.
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Mixed Reality (MR) visual displays, a particular subset of Virtual Reality (VR) related technologies, involve the merging of real and virtual worlds somewhere along the 'virtuality continuum' which connects completely real environments to completely virtual ones. Augmented Reality (AR), probably the best known of these, refers to all cases in which the display of an otherwise real environment is augmented by means of virtual (computer graphic) objects. The converse case on the virtuality continuum is therefore Augmented Virtuality (AV). Six classes of hybrid MR display environments are identified. However quite different groupings are possible and this demonstrates the need for an efficient taxonomy, or classification framework, according to which essential differences can be identified. An approximately three-dimensional taxonomy is proposed comprising the following dimensions: extent of world knowledge, reproduction fidelity, and extent of presence metaphor.
Recently, interest in how this data can be used to improve teaching and learning has also seen unprecedented growth and the emergence of the field of learning analytics. In other fields, analytics tools already enable the statistical evaluation of rich data sources and the identification of patterns within the data. These patterns are then used to better predict future events and make informed decisions aimed at improving outcomes (Educause, 2010). This paper reviews the literature related to this emerging field and seeks to define learning analytics, its processes, and its potential to advance teaching and learning in online education.
How much of innovation is inspiration, and how much is hard work? The answer lies somewhere in the middle, says management thinker Peter Drucker. In this HBR classic from 1985, he argues that innovation is real work that can and should be managed like any other corporate function. Success is more likely to result from the systematic pursuit of opportunities than from a flash of genius. Indeed, most innovative business ideas arise through the methodical analysis of seven areas of opportunity. Within a company or industry, opportunities can be found in unexpected occurrences, incongruities of various kinds, process needs, or changes in an industry or market. Outside a company, opportunities arise from demographic changes, changes in perception, or new knowledge. There is some overlap among the sources, and the potential for innovation may well lie in more than one area at a time. Innovations based on new knowledge tend to have the greatest effect on the marketplace, but it often takes decades before the ideas are translated into actual products, processes, or services. The other sources of innovation are easier and simpler to handle, yet they still require managers to look beyond established practices, Drucker explains. The author emphasizes that innovators need to took for simple, focused solutions to real problems. The greatest praise an innovation can receive is for people to say, "That's so obvious!" Grandiose ideas designed to revolutionize an industry rarely work. Innovation, like any other endeavor, takes talent, ingenuity, and knowledge. But Drucker cautions that if diligence, persistence, and commitment are lacking, companies are unlikely to succeed at the business of innovation.
This unique and ground-breaking book is the result of 15 years research and synthesises over 800 meta-analyses on the influences on achievement in school-aged students. It builds a story about the power of teachers, feedback, and a model of learning and understanding. The research involves many millions of students and represents the largest ever evidence based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. Areas covered include the influence of the student, home, school, curricula, teacher, and teaching strategies. A model of teaching and learning is developed based on the notion of visible teaching and visible learning. A major message is that what works best for students is similar to what works best for teachers - an attention to setting challenging learning intentions, being clear about what success means, and an attention to learning strategies for developing conceptual understanding about what teachers and students know and understand. Although the current evidence based fad has turned into a debate about test scores, this book is about using evidence to build and defend a model of teaching and learning. A major contribution is a fascinating benchmark/dashboard for comparing many innovations in teaching and schools.
From the founder of Harvard's Change Leadership Group comes a provocative look at why innovation is today's most essential real-world skill and what young people need to become innovators.
Similar to other institutions, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has determined that a relationship may exist between student performance as defined by grades, and activity in the campus' online course management system (CMS). Specifically, since Fall 2007, UMBC's “Most Active Blackboard Courses” reports show students earning a D or F in a sample of 131 courses used the CMS 39% less than students earning a grade of C or higher. While the sample needs to be expanded and the demographic backgrounds of students need to be studied further, what if this usage pattern holds true throughout the semester? And how might students' awareness, motivation and performance change if they could know this information sooner? This article presents a new tool that UMBC students can (and do) use to check their activity and grades against an anonymous summary of their peers, which might make them more inclined to seek or accept academic support.
How do you recognize and cultivate potential innovator
  • R K Miller
Miller, R. K. (2011, May). How do you recognize and cultivate potential innovator?. Paper presented at Olin College. Retrieved from
The riddle: where iedas come from and how to have better ones
  • A Razeghi
Razeghi, A. (2008). The riddle: where iedas come from and how to have better ones. San Francisco: Jossey-bass.