The idea of prosumers has been around for a while. The term was first coined by the American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler in the 1980s. But social networks, crowdfunding, progress in content-creation technology and faster access to information means that the ability for consumers to take part in the production process – especially in specifying design requirements – has now caught up with Toffler’s ideas.
In the UK education sector, everywhere I look I see examples of innovation: providers embracing technology in the classroom (and beyond); initiatives that connect employers with learners; colleges and vendors working together to implement customised learning solutions; new models of learning delivery; providers merging subjects to create uber-skilled professionals; uses of mobile and wearable technology to enhance engagement; and performance monitoring.
In fact I see value being created just about everywhere across the teaching and learning spectrum.
For me, these naturally occurring innovations provide a fantastic opportunity. I don’t want a costly and rigid R&D model that simply pushes out new products and services to relatively passive customers. And I don’t think our customers want that either.
We have thousands of interactions with customers every year and are well-placed to capture innovation when we see it happening, organise it and disseminate effective practice back out to our clients.
At YMCA Awards, we invite our Platinum Partners to collaborate with us on new ideas and pilot new learning products and services. We help our clients share their exceptional learning content to the wider learning community and at the same time forge new revenue streams. And we facilitate the sharing of ideas through customer forums, seminars and webinars.
But we could go further…
Our new approach
The rapid decentralisation of the innovation process means that we can add more value, more quickly, but we must have the mechanisms in place in order to react.