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Educational innovation projects in Dutch higher education: bottom-up contextual coping to deal with organizational challenges

  • Schophuizen, Martine1, 2
  • Kalz, Marco3
  • 1 Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands , Heerlen (Netherlands)
  • 2 LDE Centre for Education and Learning, TU Delft, Delft, The Netherlands , Delft (Netherlands)
  • 3 Institute for Arts, Music and Media, Heidelberg University of Education, Heidelberg, Germany , Heidelberg (Germany)
Published Article
International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Jun 16, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s41239-020-00197-z
Springer Nature


Understanding the process of initiation, design, implementation and embedding of educational innovations in higher education is necessary to develop better strategies for sustainable, large-scale educational innovation. Often early initiated educational innovation projects are not evaluated well enough, making it hard to identify lessons learned. The aim of this study is to investigate how project leaders of innovation projects in Dutch higher education institutions are coping with organizational challenges. To address this we analysed qualitative focus group data with innovators that run projects at Dutch higher education institutions through the lens of contextual coping theory. Results show that the innovators identified challenges (primary appraisal), proposed possible solutions (secondary appraisal) and also were able to take concrete steps (coping efforts) to overcome challenges to design and implement open online educational innovations. From these findings it can be concluded that bottom-up initiatives can create awareness and are capable of finding local resources to establish support for embedding innovations locally, yet, appropriate, synchronized and timely top-down action is needed in order to create a sustainable and institution wide support system for experimentation and embedding of educational innovations. These findings will contribute towards developing better strategies to develop innovative educational practices and quality education.

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