logo for spotlight on section

BILT's 'Spotlight On' area focusses on an area of education that the Institute is working on or conducting research on. 

“A change made in the nature or fashion of anything; something newly introduced; a novel practice [or] method”. That is how the OED defines innovation. It is a word we now use frequently to talk about education in the University and with good reason.

The Centre for Innovation’s exemplary degree programmes are truly pioneering in delivery and assessment and they show how fresh educational thinking can transform student learning at Bristol. BILT is working with Bristol Futures to develop University-wide optional units for September 2018 which incorporate novel ways of engaging students outside the usual structures of lectures, classes, labs and examinations. Our new BILT theme, Rethinking Spaces, is exploring the potential for new combinations of pedagogy, physical space and technology to reach a more diverse student body and to unlock a personalised and inclusive mode of learning.

Elsewhere in the University there are innovations in “engaged learning”, where students work with local partner organisations, which are making the ideal of the civic university become a reality. We also have other exciting and bold initiatives across the University from path-breaking widening participation schemes, medical education, online assessment, skills development, lecture flipping and classroom engagement.

But what the OED definition doesn’t quite explain about all this innovation is its disruptive dimension. The great economist, Schumpeter, captured the sense of challenge and controversy in innovation by calling it “creative destruction”.  And Keynes, in the Preface to his General Theory, suggested that the greatest difficulty lies not in understanding “new ideas, but in escaping from the old.”

BILT itself was an innovation for the University and we want to keep alive the boldness of ambition and the openness to challenge that brought it into existence.  It is in this spirit that we launch our new blog to provide a space for staff to openly debate some closely held and long-standing ideas in education and put them under critical scrutiny.  We begin by asking whether attendance at lectures is necessary for learning or whether we should be developing a broader concept of engagement. We are quite certain that you will have a view.

Professor Alvin Birdi

Edit this page