Publish at February 01 2023 Updated February 01 2023

Pedagogical innovation as a source of professional development

Bringing something new to an existing system


There is no good pedagogy that does not begin with the desire to learn

François de Closets

Pedagogical innovation in the face of change

Pedagogical innovation is a source of professional development for teachers and trainers because it confronts their knowledge with novel situations. It stimulates new registers of action in them to respond to them. It offers an experience of the self that pushes one beyond the strict limits of one's profession.

Pedagogical innovation is understood as taking a step aside in one's daily life. This side step brings something new into a system already in place. It explores practices, habits, beliefs and therefore provides the opportunity for professional development.  This development is as much individual as it is collective, as many situations are experienced as a team.

Pedagogical innovation takes the form of taming new methods or technologies, new designs of learning spaces, transformation of the social organization and agreed-upon roles of teachers and students, and sometimes even upheaval of the goals of the education and training system. Each of these axes is a source of acquisition of new knowledge, including and in particular a knowledge-to-learn and a knowledge-to-future.

Here are some of the pedagogical innovations of the moment

In the technological innovations most often put forward  are :

  • online learning developed by MIT (OpenCourseWare),
  • microlearning training (video capsule or podcast)  an approach popularized by Kahoot for example,
  • MoOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by Coursera, edX or FUN,
  • virtual reality training, a technology developed by Oculus,
  • augmented reality training, a technology popularized by Pokémon Go.

It would still be necessary to add technologies on the basis of educational robots for remote presence, drone or artificial intelligence assistance.

In the new design of spaces are located:

  • room arrangements for example in the form of lab (fab lab, educational experience lab),
  • inventions of places of meetings and projects (third places, ecolieux, wastelands reinvented as social and cultural creative spaces)
  • installations of new furniture,
  • multi-functionalization of creative educational spaces, catering or cultural spaces, and above all
  • all design practices to create and then bring these spaces to life: co-design, design-fiction, participatory design and all the new associated mediation roles that transform the relationship to knowledge.

The approaches to innovation through pedagogical methods are often put forward as

  • the gamification of training or education through play,
  • project-based learning, proposed by John Dewey,
  • real-time training for example "on-the-job training",
  • interest-based learning, an approach proposed by Howard Gardner,
  • disconnected learning, with the example of Sugata Mitra,
  • personalized education, which aims to tailor teaching methods and content to each student based on his or her needs and interests,
  • experiential education, which emphasizes experiential learning, encouraging students to explore and discover for themselves, and
  • flipped education, which uses technology to reverse the traditional model of teaching, giving students the ability to watch lecture videos at home and spend class time on hands-on, collaborative activities.

It is difficult to be exhaustive and a large place should be given to coaching practices, narrative practices, and  methods that integrate the body, including all forms of theater and the variety of personal development methods. 

The approaches leveraging others,

  • exploring different roles and places open up the stream of pairagogy. It includes peer education (as old as Socrates) that focuses on encouraging students to teach each other and work collaboratively. It goes beyond tutoring and mentoring, incorporating reciprocity and mutual esteem for knowledge to be shared.
  • Approaches promoting communities of practice or interest focused on collective challenges induce collective intelligence facilitation practices.
  • The whole current around learning or enabling organizations and associated learning teams, also play off the engine of close ties with others.

The approaches shifting the purposes of educational systems explore democratic forms, the way authority and power are exercised.

  • They sometimes seek to connect us to the living (ecopedagogy/ecoformation).
  • They shift us into nature and help us build another relationship to the world, another identity.

These approaches are often the most disruptive in their proposals since they touch even the purposes of the act of learning and teaching beyond the respect of a program, a content or even an adaptation objective.

These  axes are often combined to compose approaches that deeply transform the educational project. There are hundreds of practices (ranking attempt) that are commonplace in one context and completely innovative in another. 

Criteria for educational innovation

There are criteria for qualifying training as "innovative" such as their power to be empowering (make one capable of acting on one's own intentions), to include forgotten audiences, to be hospitable to different ideas, to develop in an interdisciplinary way or by crossing angles, to mix audiences not meant to meet to foster serendipity, to learn for the community and not just for oneself, to consider knowledge as a flow rather than a stock, to take into account the aspirations of the future.

It is wiser to speak of diversifying pedagogical practices rather than innovation because innovation is very often a knitting of old ideas into ideas deemed new.

How does innovation happen?

Pedagogical innovation is driven by an individual, a team, or the entire organization. 

  • * When driven by an isolated innovator, it is akin to tinkering, to composting ideas and projects forgotten in the boxes. The innovator, dissatisfied with a situation, tries something against the grain and gradually develops his idea. Sometimes he does this with a few peers who help him and serve as constructive criticism.

  • When it is carried by the entire organization, it offers means, in particular time for enterprising individuals to explore, to look for other ways. Actors are formally designated to help other members push their ideas with methods, powerful questions, even a little know-how and budgets; then dreams come true.

When innovative individuals meet willing organizations, then effects are seen at the systems level.

Benefits for learners, for self, for team, for organization

The benefits of innovation in pedagogy are numerous: 

  • learners are offered new practices, they have the opportunity to discuss forms of teaching which develops their critical thinking and helps them to know how they learn. They get out of the routine and the agreed upon to explore which stimulates their curiosity and even generates motivation. The novelty effect makes sometimes austere content attractive.

  • When teachers/trainers engage in testing, they question their fundamentals. They have the opportunity to change their angle, to add a variation, a personal touch, that will mark their style. They leave a mark and set an example for others on the virtue of daring. They have the opportunity to explore a technology, a method, a know-how.

  • When organizations innovate, they have the opportunity to grow, to set in motion virtuous loops to evaluate current practices in light of new practices. They have the opportunity to recognize their most advanced members. They can use the engine of recognition to salute each advance. They can document failures and misfires to learn how to learn more efficient behaviors.

Professional development

In summary, pedagogical innovation enables  professional development because :

  • adopting new pedagogical approaches or technological tools may require the acquisition of additional skills.

  • successfully implementing new pedagogical approaches, builds confidence  teachers/trainers in  their ability to teach effectively.

  • When teachers/trainers use innovative and engaging pedagogical approaches, learners are more motivated and invested in their learning. This can contribute to teachers'/trainers' sense of job satisfaction.

  • Pedagogical innovation encourages teachers/trainers to stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments in their field, which can foster continuous learning throughout their careers.

Pedagogical innovation can be learned and may require training to support the appropriation of an innovator's method or posture.


Cegos. Innovate in training program-innovate-in-training 

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