Creativity and Innovation Management in Higher Education


Experience Report DCU Ireland

In the beginning I struggled with how we could use the DT approach in our programme and with our learners. I think in the end that we found a good vehicle in our placement year which satisfied the broad project aims and would be useful and relevant for our learners. The placement experience is a very challenging but rewarding one for our students and the more and varied approaches we can offer them the better that experience will be. I also think that it’s important that students are equipped with and knowledgeable about creative approaches in whatever field of work they find themselves in. Tomorrow’s students face an ever-growing range of opportunities and challenges that will require innovative thinking and HEIs should be involved in devising ways to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes in these areas

Creativity and innovation

Creativity and innovation are key elements in the strategic vision of the University and these concepts are dealt with in a range of modules and programmes across the Universities faculties in both the content of the course material and in the way it is delivered and assessed.

Teaching/learning approaches

The university has a very active Teaching Enhancement Unit which constantly engages with staff and learners to train and develop staff to take innovative approaches to their teaching and learning. The ongoing pandemic has further refined and focused that work and considerable energy and resources have been devoted to developing, new, hybrid and blended approaches to teaching and learning. University staff are engaged in a range of research projects over the last year to reflect on how these new approaches can be adapted in future programme design and delivery


Why is it necessary to be innovative?

The complex and interdependent world that we live in presents challenges and opportunities that traditional ways of thinking are poorly suited to dealing with. Innovation and creativity are vital if we are to address today’s major concerns but it can be difficult to get people to re-engineer or re-imagine their thinking.

Being able to tap into a range of experiences and expertise is really important and enriching. The use of a cross disciplinary approach and bringing together the worlds of business and HEIs was also an interesting and rewarding experience in terms of this project. In broader terms, I think the mixture of experiences, knowledge and cultural variety and exchange are also strong features of pan European projects and is something that should continue to be supported. The development of relationships across Europe through project collaboration such as we found in this project can lead to an enhanced and strengthened European identity which is particularly necessary in these times.

Knowledge and experience of programme design and implementation. Long term interest in creativity as a concept particularly in relation to the arts but limited understanding of how C and I could be included in education and training contexts. Curiosity and interest in learning about new approaches.

Through face to face training programmes which were great and through the regular online meetings which were also a really good aspect of the project

By recognising and identifying colleagues who are curious and committed commitment to trying new approaches.

The training workshop in Palermo was a very intense but rewarding experience which covered a huge amount of material but definitely served to enthuse and encourage us on the journey.

The workshop in Palermo and the DT workshop we held in Dublin were the best parts of the experience.

The difficulty that our students faced due to the uncertainty created by the covid pandemic had a negative impact on their general experience and meant that they could not fully implement the DT principles they had learned in the workshop.

I really enjoyed learning about Design Thinking and I will be using it in the future as a practitioner and as a programme manager/team-member.

I think overall that the Irish team and the students were well disposed to this way of working and enjoyed the experience. I also think that the project team was excellent in how it managed to steer this sometimes complex and detailed project throughout the lifetime of the project but particularly in how it reacted to the unique circumstances that we found ourselves in over the last year.

Team member testimonial:

“I really enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the project particularly the engagement with the students. I have a long-standing practical and research interest in communities of practice as an empowering methodology in teacher education and I found that the design thinking process leant itself to the development of a vibrant and effective community of practice involving lecturers and students. I will also bring the design thinking approach to other aspects of my practice in the future, I think it’s a great way to enhance collaboration and develop strong team practices”.