What are the conditions for educational and social innovation to take place? Is one possible without the other? What is the actual contribution of technological innovations, in particular digital technologies? Under what conditions do they confront or comfort the status quo? Do we have evidence that technological innovations have (dis)empowered learners and citizens? Under what conditions could learners and citizens lead educational and social innovation?
We are living in a paradoxical world: generation Y, the generation most apt with social media is also the one least likely to respond "yes" to the question "Would you tell me if you generally trust the woman in the street to tell the truth or not?" (40% against 70% for Baby Boomers)— source Ipsos MORI. While the cause of this paradox rests on a wide range of factors from massive youth unemployment to politicians impotency (we cannot just blame Facebook!) the lesson we should (re)learn is that technical innovation is not enough to generate educational or social innovation.
Educational and social innovation requires the full involvement of learners and citizens. But there are many obstacles on the way to making it happen: the lack of trust in oneself and each other, a shattered sense of agency — the conviction of being deprived of the power to act on one's own life and environment.
Although there are a number of solutions to address these issues, they cannot be implemented without the active involvement of learners and citizens — "innovation for the learners and citizens" widely differs from "innovation with and by learners and citizens." There is a wide difference between inviting school dropouts (or rather "pushouts") and unemployed youth to find solutions to those problems, i.e. fixing the society they try to live in, and imposing yet another reform of the curriculum or new labour regulations.
It is with this in mind, to explore how ePortfolios, Open Badges, Identity, Trust and Blockchains can make a difference, that we have decided to place ePIC 2016 under one overarching theme:
Making learners and citizens the leaders of educational and social innovation