02 SES 04 C, Strengthening VET in Times of Transition
Vocational educations are facing a number of new requirements and challenges that calls for a continuous renewal and innovation of practice. New reforms, new generations of students, new job skill requirements and new technologies. A massive change is taking place all at once within these areas, which demands that the vocational educations renew their practices and adapts within a short period of time. The educations cannot continue in the same way as usual. Instead efforts have to be made in order to innovate and improve the practice of these institutions.
Research conducted in relation to Public Sector Innovation indicates a number of barriers that may occur when attempting to establish an innovation-culture within the educational sector. Firstly, the implementation of New Public Management methods and mindset have resulted in top-down governance, decoupling employees and the day to day practice. Second, the development activities that are taking place are often reduced to isolated projects and individuals that fail to contribute to a shared and broader innovation-culture. This paper presents the argument that experiments are a valuable means of securing innovation and change in the educational sector. That is because experiments can frame a systematic and iterative process where educational institutions can design, test and renew practice in order to ensure that innovation is happening where it is needed.
This article presents the results of a 3 year project named The Vocational Education Lab. During this 3 year period of time, 127 educational experiments have been conducted in eight different VET educations in the Copenhagen Region. The aim of this project has been to develop an organizational and methodical capacity that enables educational organizations to initiate changes within their pedagogical and organizational practice. In the paper there will be a discussion of how experiments and experimentation may contribute to renewal and innovation in educational practice. Further what sort of changes the experiments have actually contribute to and which organizational barriers that can occur when completing experiments in a educational context.
Theoretically the article draws on current research on innovation in the public sector, on design research, organizational learning and experimental labs as a method to provide organizational changes.
The empirical data treated in this article is collected from the127 experiments conducted and includes both quantitativequalitative data. The quantitative data consist of survey data gathered in relation to the continuous evaluations of the experiments’ capacity to create change. The qualitative data consist of interviews with the heads of the educational organizations and educators responsible for carrying out the experiments.
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