David Porter encourages us to consider the context that we work in as we listen to Donna Lancos this morning. She talked about digital machines. The opening question was around if we need to choose between innovation and providing students with the basics.

Listen to the talk here.


I found her presentation very engaging and insightful. She talked about how innovative teachers often need to work around the barriers institutions set up in order to be creative and meet the needs of their learners. This is so so so true. Creativity is not the problem. Educators I work with are often creative but have a hard time doing what they want to do.

If you really want to help people be creative it is important to support their teaching practices. Donna talked about Twitter as the conference you can go to without all the expenses. Digital connections enable more creative connections with others and a decentralization of power and a way to get around hierarchies. I have not really thought about it like that. I get a lot of value from engaging on Twitter. I also find that too much engagement can be problematic (but that is a blog for another day.


Donna’s discussion about how Anthropology has influenced history is sobering. It is very interesting to hear about history through this lens. I like the stance she takes that she wants to make practices visible – not claim that she has discovered them.

Schools have a damaging and deadly history of colonization. We need to listen to the voices of those who are not engaging or are only engaging with each other.


Everyone has a reason for doing what they do. If you need to fight the system or are being punished for making evidence-informed decisions creativity will not happen. she says “The perceived lack of innovation is about systems that get in the way of practice.” YES!! I can identify with needing to hack the system to do innovative things.

Who are we innovating for – and at whose expense?


If we listen to the people in our communities and are guided by them then we do not need to worry so much about center and periphery. Imagine a future that you want and work towards that. It may mean that people who are not you (or me) speak. What can the centered people do and learn when we de-center our own practices? How do we learn from people without insisting that they teach us things?

We do not need corporations for creativity – We need creativity.

We do not need to have a false dichotomy of basics vs. creativity. If you have the power to experiment and creative how do you share that? We need Praxis and collective action.

The future needs to be co-created. We need to shape our own future.

People do things for a reason. Your job as an educator is not to fill people with content but to engage learners and use content as a context to teach critical thinking.

If you are at an institution that penalizes you for innovation that is a leadership problem. Leadership and transparency is very important. We need to be transparent with our learners and tell them the reasons we are doing what we are doing. Feeling protected by your Dean or Chair is important. Failure needs to be re-framed as a learning opportunity.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


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