Pollen’s© ambition is to position secondary and further education as a host to social-innovation and knowledge transfer.

No_avatar_small Submitted by Shaune Greenidge
How can we use people, and local assets to make Wolverhampton a better place?

Based on changing demographics, advances in technology and shifting social-economic environmental patterns, demand across Wolverhampton’s social-economic sectors are predicted to increase significantly by 2020. As an example, demand for social care services in Wolverhampton is predicted to increase by 10% by 2017. The results of social innovation – new ideas that meet unmet needs (human-centred) – are all around us. Many innumerable social innovations, from cognitive behavioural therapy for prisoners to Wikipedia, have begun to move from the margins into the mainstream and act as effective intervention measures. Pollen© Pollen’s© ambition is to position secondary and further education as a host to social-innovation and knowledge transfer. We aim to enable the re-thinking of conventional work-related learning models within education, focusing on improving Wolverhampton’s capacities to solve its social-economic problems through innovation and education. Pollen’s© objective is to establish design thinking as a mechanism in education, from which a dialogue of domestic economic responsibility, social empathy and contributory activism arises. Whilst it’s argued that increased skills lead to an increase in national prosperity we believe that skill alone cannot improve the productivity within society? We believe that skill-sets need to be complemented with intrinsic motivation drivers, enquiry and questioning. Skill-sets need to be accompanied by experiential practice contextualised within real world scenarios that lead to reflection and continued development of self, craft and environments. Pollen© provides new work-related learning (WRL) paradigms that fuse theoretical and practical learning (curriculum), and informs practice. We do this by hosting and publishing data-sets that highlight regional social-economic issues for 6 key sectors; Public Health & Social Care; Business & Finance; Transport & Communications; Engineering Manufacturing and Construction; Wholesale & Retail; and Climate, Sustainability and Communities. We analyse and publish qualitative and quantitative data to frame opportunities for educational intervention through design-led activism. Using innovative web-based and digital platforms, we provide the tools for institutions to share and contribute to human centred social innovation. Our curriculum resources, interactive platforms, employer engagement, challenge-led projects, workshops and CPD activities provide an architecture of tools, resources and knowledge that enables educational institutions to actively participate in design-led collaboration, social-economic needs assessment, inter-dependency and design thinking activity that will prove to be key in advancing future communities. For those providers who wish to contribute to improving local social-economic environments, Pollen© provides ‘value-added’ work-related activity that facilitates the creation of skilled, productive knowledge workers, enabling the honing and fine-tuning of the emerging skills required by industries. Pollen©’s work-related learning provision provides the knowledge, expertise, tools and conscience to facilitate a programme of interdependent or collaborative work-related learning that prepares learners and staff as thinkers, contributors, innovators and social-economic consultants of the future. Paying consideration to emerging digital and technological trends, Pollen has identified how insight, knowledge transfer and challenge-led approaches to work-related learning can support regional social-economic development, advancing, guiding and improving the mobility and experience of communities through learners studying vocational and academic qualifications. It’s about old and new methods for mobilising the ubiquitous intelligence that exists within its communities. We [Pollen©] see the development of social innovation as an urgent task and in determining change have identified the growing gaps between the scale of Wolverhampton’s social-economic problems and the scale of the solutions on offer. In short - Pollen© is a change!… Pollen© aims to establish design thinking skill-sets not as a silo to the current curriculum, but as an additional tradition synonymous with innovation and ambition.

We aim to embed into education a social-economic ‘contributory philosophy’ facilitating the understanding of design’s value metrics in contemporary societies.

Prepared by Shaune Greenidge