Enhancing capacity for innovation within the York Region District School Board
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Subjectdesign thinking; employee empowerment; innovation; modern learning; prototyping; student empowerment
The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) is the third largest school district in the Province of Ontario. The Board is situated within York Region, one of the fastest growing communities within the Greater Toronto area. The needs of the 21st century learner are vastly different from the industrial age upon which the current education system was founded. As an education system tasked with preparing learners for the future, innovation has been named a foundational practice. Leaders within the organization are actively pursuing improved capacity for innovation and examining what innovation in education means. The goal of this inquiry was to reflect on the current capacity for innovation within the YRDSB, understand what organizational factors promote and inhibit innovation, and consider what would increase the YRDSB's capacity for innovation in a more systematic way. This inquiry adhered to Royal Roads University Research Ethics Policy and utilized the action research engagement model with an appreciative stance. Specific methods used included two photovoice focus groups, and seven individual interviews. Participants included an interdisciplinary group of Regional employees working out of a common location, as well as members of the middle management and senior leadership teams. The findings and subsequent recommendations highlighted the need for a common understanding of innovation within the YRDSB, uncovered assets that could be more intentionally utilized, and identified key innovation-promoting structures, processes, and leadership behaviours. An innovation framework is proposed to support the YRDSB in moving forward its innovation agenda.
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