During an innovation course the teacher may take on different roles in relation to the students, and as described in Organizing the course the teacher may be a part of a group of teachers with different backgrounds and disciplinary skills. As such the teacher may take on one role or many different roles depending on different factors such as the following:
- Disciplinary background and experience
The teacher may have a disciplinary background with relevance to the course content and as such function as an expert. Another possibility is that the teacher has practical experience with innovation processes and teamwork and can take on the role of facilitator. The teacher may also function as course coordinator and focus on the practical aspects of the course.
- Teaching resources available during the course
If there are enough resources available to include several teachers in the course in order to supplement the necessary professional competences, this will of course affect the teacher’s role in relation to the amount of functions that need to be covered and how the different disciplinary fields overlap and supplement each other.
In the descriptions below you can read about facilitation and coordination, which are two important functions when teaching for and through innovation and entrepreneurship processes.
Use these descriptions as guidance on how to handle different roles and functions within the course in the best possible way. If it is a larger course with many students and collaborations with external organizations, we recommend to include more than one teacher and to gather a team of teachers of two to five or more teachers. Especially facilitation and coordination need to be sorted out and delegated well in advance of the course. The division of roles should also be clear to the students.
The role of the facilitator
The facilitator’s overall role is to make the students’ innovation process function on a methodical level by guiding the students in decision-making, applying methods and planning the process.
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This may be structured around specific milestones and deliverables throughout the course where the facilitator helps the students to make qualified decisions and move forward in the process. The facilitator is not necessarily an expert within the disciplinary field of the course, but the facilitator needs to have an understanding of innovation and methods as well as thorough insights into the course learning objectives and she/he needs to be able to guide the students in relation to the usage of relevant methods.
How much and in which way the facilitator should guide and help the students is difficult to describe as this depends on the learning objectives of the course and the students’ knowledge of and experience with innovation. Good facilitation, however, is concerned with the balance of the following:
- That the students are guided by the facilitator throughout the process in relation to the course learning objectives in a structured manner.
- That the students manage to work independently and in that way learn on their own how to use methods, handle processes and be a part of a well functioning project collaboration, as well as reflecting on these acts.
The facilitator is not a team leader and should not take responsibility of the team dynamics, but rather handle potential conflicts in order to ensure a productive and constructive group work. This requires a confidential relationship between the facilitator and the students in which the students are confident talking about conflicts, feelings, power structures and so on, without it having negative consequences in relation to the exam for example. It takes time to build up this kind of trust and you may coose to formalise the role of the facilitator with a written collaboration agreement in order for the students to feel confident about the relationship.
The role of the coordinator
The coordinator functions as a recurring person throughout the course who takes care of the framework and structuring of the course.
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The coordinator is the connecting link between the students, the teachers and the external organisations and has the responsibility of coordinating teaching activities in relation to the course plan and the detailed playbook. As such coordination involves organising cooperation between the teachers, handling communication with the students as well as handling cooperation with external organisations.
The coordinator may be the same person as the course responsible, or it may be a person who cooperates with the course responsible in handling the coordination of the course. Since courses that teaches through innovation and project work, with external clients and many students may be demanding in relation to time and resources, it may be a good idea to have a coordinator connected to the course’s team of teachers so that the course responsible is able to focus on the exam and possibly the disciplinary content of the teaching.
The coordinator should also cooperate with the course responsible and the rest of the team of educators on developing the course description, playbook and process design, in order for the coordinator to gain an insight into the course content and structure to be used when coordinating the course.
Cases and external cooperation
In relation to case based project work it is especially relevant to assign a coordinator to the course who will take care of:
- Finding suitable cases, preparing cases and cooperation agreements with external organisations (regarding e.g. confidentiality and idea protection)
- To handle the contact with external organisations before the course begins and throughout the course.
- To supply other relevant materials from the external organisations that provide the students with the best preconditions for solving the case: internal reports, visual material, statistics and so on.
Read more about Cases and external collaboration here
The coordinator should have an overview of the teaching materials used during the course. The teaching materials are used in order to support the students’ process during an I&E course and should be available to all students and teachers of the course, preferably printed. The teaching material may for example be:
- Course process model
- Program / Weekly plan for the course
- Practical information, including information on educators, rooms, exams and so on.
- Descriptions of deliverables
- Case descriptions
- Group contracts
- Guidance on methods/exercises that the students facilitate themselves within their teams
Read more about Teaching materials and find concrete examples of applied teaching materials in I&E courses.
- If the teacher is responsible for the examination of the students taking the course, this may influence which types of roles that are appropriate for the teacher to take on. This is especially applicable in relation to facilitating the students and handling potential conflicts in relation to group work, as this kind of guidance demands a certain confidence between the teacher and the students in order to work. There may be certain aspects of the students’ group work and general activities which the examination teacher should not be informed of and which should not affect the exam results.
- It may also be inappropriate of the examination teacher to be evaluating and giving feedback on the students’ ideas as biases may occur as the teacher (unintentionally) may affect the students’ ideas and solutions in a certain direction.