Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 7 January 2007   Saturday, January 27, 2007

ISSN 1748-3603

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Feature article
Partnerships with Palestinians
Where is the E in L itch? Embedded or Invisible?
Leitch: another skills report
The Quality Improvement Agency’s (QIA) response to Leitch
Leitch is no Occam
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Mobile Learning
The Tribal Education Innovation Challenge
Accessibility awareness raising and continuing professional development
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JANET Voice Service
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mLearn 2006: Across generations and cultures
LAMS 2006
Online Educa Berlin 2006
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Using Wink to create software presentations
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The Tribal Education Innovation Challenge
by John Simpson

John Simpson, Tribal’s Director of Education, has worked extensively with the further and higher education sector and states:

"There are a lot of people working in education - teachers, lecturers, managers, support staff - who have … good ideas on how things can be done more effectively but, despite having formed new business concepts, many have not had the time, resources or maybe the drive to develop them further.”

He envisages Tribal’s role as providing educationalists appropriate, specialist support so that they can progress their plans and develop a culture of innovation within their institutions. In response, Tribal has launched the first ever Education Innovation Challenge campaign: a competition attracting new business start-up ideas for services and products in all sectors of education. Advertised in "The Times Education" and "Higher Education" supplements and "The Guardian", the competition invites business ideas that contribute to raising standards of achievement, enhancing the range of provision currently available and/or improving the effectiveness of educational institutions and agencies. In return, it offers applicants the chance to be mentored by Tribal’s expert team and make the most of a business start-up package that includes access to office space, administration support, start-up costs and a possible opportunity to develop an equity stake in the business.

Submitted proposals from individuals, existing small and medium-sized businesses and educational institutions are now being evaluated. The most promising applicants have had meetings with John, Henry Pitman (chief executive for the Tribal Group) and a panel of experts to ascertain the functionality and commercial viability of the applications. John has found that some of the candidates have proposed, “completely new ideas which have no history of being marketed, while others have begun to market their products and are looking for additional investment to push things forward.”

Proposals received include those for:

  • new and innovative consultancy services;
  • software simulations and web-based products specifically for schools;
  • new approaches in the training and personal development of educational staff;
  • improving teaching and learning particularly for mathematics;
  • addressing equality and diversity issues;
  • general management and administration of schools;
  • management of financial services across the sectors.

Many innovative and original proposals have been received from all over the UK and cover aspects of learning, teaching and administration in all of the sectors. Tribal will only be able to work with a few of the applicants. Others will be provided advice on how to progress ideas and suggestions for further development such as liaising with university research projects. It is hoped that all those participating in the challenge will benefit from the process.

Such has been the success of the competition that Tribal is now considering turning the Education Innovation Challenge into a continuous process because, as John states, “Tribal is committed to investing in diversity and innovation, not just at competition time, but all through the year.”

Further information about the Tribal Innovation Challenge is available at

John Simpson
Director of Education
Tribal Group

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