09 May Defining Social Innovation
We have been using the term “Social Innovation” to describe what The Patatas is all about but what exactly does that mean?
As defined by Wikipedia, social innovation is the different ways of doing things that meet social needs such as education and healthcare. Social innovation includes the social processes of innovation, such as open source methods and techniques and fulfilling social purposes through these innovations.
Social innovation often requires some form of creativity because we have to look at the social problems and coming up with more efficient and sustainable ways to solve it, as compared to the current solution.
For example, with Project Digi-Eskwela, teachers at Tiwala were wondering how to increase the engagement rate of the students in school and to keep the students in the education system. The teachers work closely with the slum communities in Legazpi, Philippines and it is important for the children and their parents in the slum areas to see the value of education. We saw the opportunity to introduce e-learning methods to Tiwala as a supplement to their curriculum, something that they have not used before in their classrooms. As compared to the traditional classroom teaching methods, the project has helped Tiwala to achieve higher engagement rates among students. Parents also saw that their kids were more enthusiastic about going to school due to the exposure to new technology. The project is still ongoing with new e-learning methods being introduced.
You can see that for us, social innovation is not just about creating a whole new technology solution to help our partners. It can be something that is common to us but new to the partner we are working with. It can also be something totally new to everyone and it will be a journey finding what works best for our partner. What matters to us is being able to find something that would help them to do what they do, better.
That is why we are constantly talking to people and keeping a lookout for new technologies because they could be the innovative answer to social problems. To us, the exchange of ideas and values are essential because that is where ideas flow and creative solutions are born.