Evidence-informed educational innovation


Let educational innovation with ICT take place in an evidence-informed manner

This weekend was the Weekend of Science. Fleur Prinsen, leader of the zone Evidence-informed Educational innovation with ICT, explains why evidence-informed innovation in education is so important.

There are currently plenty of suggestions for transforming education through the use of digital resources. These are dressed with seductive talk, but not too often with scientific evidence that the use of these resources will lead to added value for the educational learning process. There are often underlying assumptions that have not been sufficiently tested in practice. It is clear to researchers who work in educational practice that this is quite a large and complex task, but should we then start taking shortcuts (Hollands & Escueta, 2019) with the risk of doing our students a disservice?

Evidence-based versus evidence-informed

Research shows that evidence-based working is not feasible for lecturers in practice, in the sense that consulting research in advance (only) cannot provide the teacher with certainty that the application of educational technology will be successful in his or her practice. Therefore, there is a call for more knowledge propagation by educational researchers, in addition to (less effective) knowledge dissemination (Froyd et al., 2017).

Support is needed for educators to work on educational design in an evidence-informed manner (see e.g. Seel, Lehmann, Blumschein, & Podolskiy, 2017). This should also be taken into account in the professionalisation offer for lecturers (Greany & Maxwell, 2017). Lecturers need evaluation instruments with which they can properly evaluate their innovative educational design, and then have to adjust their design accordingly. A very recent systematic review of research by Lai and Bower (2019) shows that evaluations of the contribution that technology makes in educational practice can focus, for example, on learning outcomes, didactics, and on affective elements. But the institutionalised environment also plays a major role in the success or failure of educational innovation with ICT.


On social media, there is a lot of fuss about which evidence is scientific enough to serve as a basis for decisions that a lecturer (or a board of directors) makes when they use educational technology in their didactic process. A more productive and constructive question is through whom, or in what way, scientific evidence can reach practice, how it can be used in practice, and how more relevant evidence can be generated in the workplace itself. As an educational researcher, one must also work in an evidence-informed manner on knowledge dissemination, or propagation, which means that one must be sure of the way in which knowledge is used in practice when making design decisions (e.g. Hollands & Escueta, 2019). In this way, evidence can be presented and generated in a practice-oriented manner, resulting in much more impact.


Froyd, J. E., Henderson, C., Cole, R. S., Friedrichsen, D., Khatri, R., & Stanford, C. (2017). From dissemination to propagation: A new paradigm for education developers. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 49(4), 35-42.

Greany, T., & Maxwell, B. (2017). Evidence-informed innovation in schools: aligning collaborative research and development with high-quality professional learning for teachers. International Journal of Innovation in Education, 4 (2-3).

Hollands, F., & Escueta, M. (2019). How research informs educational technology decision-making in higher education: the role of external research versus internal research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 1-18.

Seel N.M., Lehmann T., Blumschein P., Podolskiy O.A. (2017). Research-Based Instructional Design. Instructional Design for Learning. SensePublishers, Rotterdam

Fleur Prinsen

Team leader zone Evidence-informed
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