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Playfulness, Mess, Risks and Other Fun with Attempting Innovative Teaching

We want to share some experience with attempts at innovative teaching. Our aim is not to share a recipe for how to be innovative, nor to claim that we have best practices. But we do try, and we keep trying, and we think we have interesting stories to share about our experiences and, more importantly, how we recovered from those experiences -- both good and bad. An important component of innovation is failure, and sometimes spectacular failure. And even when innovations did work, it wasn’t necessarily as expected.

Innovation requires a playful mindset and an ability to cope when things go awry or in unpredictably great directions. Innovation in teaching can be fun and rewarding if you are willing to embrace the risks, design to manage the risks, and be strategically ready to take advantage of the unexpected.


Michelle Kazmer is a Professor in the School of Information at Florida State University. Her research is in the area of distributed knowledge. A primary focus of her research is in health information and health disparities, and she has led the qualitative components of studies that involve skills building interventions for African-American dementia caregivers, reminder systems to increase screening for underserved women at risk for breast cancer, and understanding the health knowledge behaviors of undergraduate students with respect to sexually transmitted diseases, ALS patients in an online support community, and Latinx parents of children getting the vaccine that helps prevent human papillomavirus infections. Her teaching has been recognized through various awards including the ASIS&T Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award (2014), the Florida State University Transformation Through Teaching award, and the FSU School of Information Graduate Teaching Award.

Michael Twidale is a Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. His research and teaching interests include computer-supported cooperative work, usability engineering, design thinking, sociotechnical systems design, the social learning of technology, learning as search, agile methods, and museum informatics. His teaching has been recognized through various awards including the Lancaster University Pilkington Award for Innovative Teaching, the University of Illinois Award for Excellence in Off-Campus Teaching for teaching a distance education course on interface analysis and redesign, and being a frequent member of the University of Illinois list of faculty rated as excellent in teaching. In November 2107 he was the winner, of the ASIST Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award.