Envisioning Innovation in Education



Beginning in July 2020, CATALYST Education Lab (CEL) will engage with Project Zero (PZ), a globally renowned research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), on a three-year study entitled "Envisioning Innovation in Education" (EIE). Eleven secondary schools from Hong Kong have already been recruited to join the Study.

Using a collaborative inquiry approach to research, the goal of the study is to further promote and investigate the practices of inquiry, innovation, and learning design amongst a cohort of educators and a team of school principals in Hong Kong. Together, the researchers, educators and school principals will envision the “what” and “why” of innovation in education, and develop the “how” of generative change by identifying and developing a set of inquiry skills educators will need to pursue innovative projects.


About the Program

With the long-term mission of catalysing change in the Hong Kong education landscape, CEL is working with PZ researchers to initiate the Envisioning Innovation in Education program with the aim to foster opportunities for Hong Kong educators’ to learn about and develop a disposition towards innovation to educate for the future. This research initiative is based on:

  • Three-part process for change: envision what innovative education for the future might look like, inquire about existing teaching and learning environments that successfully emphasize innovative approaches, build tools and case studies for supporting educators innovative capacities, and experiment with new approaches by pursuing innovative projects.

Three-step Change Process: Envision, Inquire, Innovate
  • Two inquiry teams: a teacher cohort (composed of 4-6 educators and school administrators at each participating school) and a principal cohort (from each school)

  • A collaborative inquiry protocol: educators will meet regularly as study groups and also as a full learning community to systematically examine their practice and interventions, look collaboratively at documentation, provide mutual support, and strategize for next steps 

  • Ongoing oversight and facilitation from PZ research team: a wide variety of onsite, offsite and online interactions will be employed (incl. workshops, interviews, classroom observations)

Beyond building the innovation capability of the participating schools, this program will work towards building a professional development toolkit, a set of case studies, and a variety of documentation to share the study findings for the benefit of the wider education community.


Frequently-asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. Similar Experience - Has this program been done in previous years with other schools/in other countries?

A: This is a unique study that was derived from CEL’s goal of transforming education through rethinking professional development. Recognizing Project Zero’s (PZ’s) extensive experience and proven results in supporting educators and administrators as they pursue meaningful change in their practice (through structured participatory professional development experiences), CEL sees great opportunity in partnering with PZ to design a research study that is specific to Hong Kong context (with learnings that are applicable in other contexts too). 

To get a clearer idea of how the experience might look like, we recommend looking into the “Creating Communities of Innovation” project which PZ team has done previously in UAE.

Q2. Innovation - How do you define innovation?

A: As the initial stage of the program, the Envision process will help define what Innovation means for a teacher, principal, or administrator within the context of their school and/or classroom. That said, innovation can be seen as an iterative process of reflecting on current practice, looking for opportunities to change such practice to better address educational goals and visions in ways that enhance human potential, and testing, documenting, and revising these approaches within a school/classroom community. 

The “Creating Communities for Innovation” project previously conducted by the PZ team has further articulated a model of inquiry-driven innovation that includes five qualities of innovation: purposeful and intentional, attentive to multiple perspectives, adapted to context, sustained and iterative, and structured and supported.

Q3. Project Scope - What is your expectation of the scope and scale of the project from each school?

A: As opposed to joining the program with a predisposed “innovation project” in mind, we encourage all schools to start with a clean slate/ open mind, and allow your experience in the “Envision, Inspire and Innovate” process to help determine the direction, scope and scale of each school project.

Q4. Progress & Impact Evaluation - How would participating schools go by evaluating progress and impact?

A: When it comes to “impact measurement”, PZ puts an emphasis on “Making Things Visible”. Rather than episodically “taking the temperature” and using quantitative numbers, PZ sees more value in a qualitative approach -- to make teachers’ and students’ work visible through the mechanism of documentation, interviews, and focus groups, among other approaches.

The big benchmarks/indicator of progress will be through exhibitions during the quarterly PZ team visits to Hong Kong, where participating teams will showcase their work. (School-based exhibits can also be done if teams want to.)

We are confident that the richness demonstrated during the exhibitions, shared through pictures of practice, and summarized in a professional development toolkit will mean so much more than graphs and tables.

Q5. Other teachers’ involvement - Are there opportunities in which teachers beyond the Teacher Cohort can benefit?

A: Beyond working with the Teacher Cohort/ school leadership, the PZ team may conduct school visits or host workshops during their quarterly visit to Hong Kong. As appropriate, they will certainly try to involve other teachers in a way that benefits the school community and aligns with their research objectives. 

Additionally, other teachers are welcome to observe and even participate in the in-school study group sessions.

Q6. Sharing progress with other stakeholders in school - Besides the study group and the principal cohort, how would other stakeholders in the school be informed/involved in the process?

A: The broader school community will be able to learn about the work of the project through periodic exhibition of participant’s work, or by joining workshops offered by the research team. The research team will also facilitate parent/caregiver workshops to more broadly inform the school community about the work of the project.  

The participating educators will also be encouraged to facilitate professional development sessions for their colleagues (this has worked well in previous PZ studies).

Q7. Student Voice - How is student feedback incorporated across all phases of the project?

A: Students are not intended to be the unit of analysis for this Study. Having said that, student voice will be represented throughout teachers’ documentation as they look at student work, document students’ reactions to different pedagogical interventions, and make student learning visible.


About the Research Group: Project Zero (PZ)

PZ is a renowned educational research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) with the mission to understand and enhance learning, thinking as well as creativity.

PZ has over 50 years of experience in supporting educators in fostering deep meaningful thinking and learning. Recent examples include “Creating Communities of Innovation” (UAE) and “Agency by Design: Early Childhood in the Making” (HK).


For more details, visit: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/

Project Zero Logo

Should you have any enquiries, 

please contact us via email at info@celhk.org.