Network for Evidencing Transformative Learning
The Learning Emergence team is collaborating in setting up a Networked Improvement Community for enhancing Students’ Resilient Agency. Working initially with schools in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, there are already aspects of this Network for Evidencing Transformative Learning (NETL) in place, aligned to school improvement priorities.
The (NETL) brings together teachers, school leaders and researchers to design and develop a Networked Improvement Community with the shared purpose of improving pedagogy to enhance students’ resilience in their learning and life narratives.
- Leaders’ learning will focus on enabling teachers to engage productively in professional enquiry tuned to school improvement.
- Teacher learning will focus on pedagogies that support students’ resilience in learning and in life narratives.
- Student learning will be conducted through authentic enquiry.
Objectives of the NETL
To understand and evidence the processes which contribute to the development of resilient agency in learning and life narratives for young people in formal and informal learning contexts
To systematically model and represent these processes in such a way that the data can be used for self-evaluation and improvement at all levels of the learning organisation – students, teachers, leaders, system leaders.
To understand and develop both the social and technical resources that are necessary for sustainability in networked improvement communities.
The distinctive contribution of the NETL is that it will provide a means for schools to holistically and systematically improve their capability in pedagogies that nurture student resilience and agency. The project draws on improvement science and is positioned within a framework of participatory decision making in which key stakeholders collaboratively determine and systematically evaluate key processes and outcomes, rather than being determined by external regulation. The engine for improvement is the disciplined learning journeys of all stakeholders at all levels. This will provide a foundation for scaling up and sustainability.
Why does it matter?
- There is a growing body of evidence that standards are plateauing in many schools and that current approaches to change and improvement have taken us as far as they can
- Current approaches are over-simplistic and predominantly managerial, encourage shallow learning and are not fit for an effective education in the 21st C; instead, schools should be seen as complex, adaptive systems that support deep learning across the whole community
- Several long-standing, complex issues continue to hamper further pupil progress, e.g. the negative impact of key transitions; slow progress in embedding best practice about teaching and learning within and between schools; the long ‘tail’ of underachievement
- International evidence that the best education systems (in terms of sustained improvement) focus on the quality of teacher recruitment, professional learning and the development of outstanding, learning-centred leadership to ensure that pupils become resilient agents of their own learning, supported by parents and carers
- Head teachers are constantly challenged to focus on day-to-day operational issues rather than essential strategic, values-related and learning-focused activities improvement at scale, driven by stakeholder purpose.
- Well being and resilient agency is a challenge for all schools: Promoting physical and mental health in schools creates a virtuous circle reinforcing children’s attainment and achievement that in turn improves their wellbeing, enabling children to thrive and achieve their full potential.
Social Organisation of the NETL
Researchers will be ‘critical friends’ with key leaders in schools. We will build directly on the experience and expertise in Improvement Science of colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation for the Improvement of Teaching in San Francisco and the experience of the Learning Emergence Network (www.learningemergence.net). Since we are concerned with the whole system, we will co-design interventions from three viewpoints: leaders, teachers and students. A key principle is that all members of a learning community take increasing responsibility for collaboratively leading their own learning and change:
- Leaders will pilot visual mapping tools to gain insight into the complex dynamics of their schools as whole systems, in order to inform strategic planning, personal development and organisational learning
- Teachers will engage in authentic enquiry & professional learning aimed at developing learner-centred practices, in order to develop professionally as facilitators of learning
- Students will engage in personalised learning through authentic enquiry which enables them to self asses and develop their learning power and enables them to progressively take responsibility for their own learning journey — in and out of school
Schools will have the opportunity to use state of the art learning technologies for supporting critical enquiry, coaching, social learning and knowledge mapping. Evidence will be gathered throughout the three-year project providing feedback for schools and data for researchers.
Virtual Organisation of the NETL
The Hub of the Networked Improvement Community will be based at the Connected Intelligence Centre at the University of Technology Sydney. The rapid prototype interventions designed by key stakeholders will be supported and scaffolded through a framework of tools that facilitate feedback for self-directed improvement whilst allowing for each site to design contextually specific prototypes. Three key platforms form the technical ecosystem for the project which supports its social organisation:
The Surveys for Open Learning Analytics Platform
Set up through crowd sourced funding by the Learning Emergence Network, SOLA will provide rapid feedback of data for users, including students, which can be used for improvement whilst at the same time capturing raw quantitative data for researcher analysis of the impact of the user led interventions. The Crick Learning for Resilient Agency Profile (CLARA) is a key tool provided through this platform. Other tools and resources developed by the network will be available via SOLA’s identity management system.
A Social Learning Platform
for sharing and annotating learning resources.
An Evidence Hub
for pooling and evaluating learning from the rapid prototyping across the project, linking researcher and practitioner evidence.
A Network of Networks
Each leading stakeholder in the NETL (a school or learning centre) will itself be a node within a wider network. With close support from the NETL Hub each school would be invited to engage in three inter-related programmes.
- A two year professional learning programme, aligned to AITSL standards, which embeds teacher learning in the work of the NETL
- A structured retreat programme for system leaders
- An Australian Research Council funded Linkage Research Project (under review)
These programmes are distinct and inter-related, designed to build capacity in the leadership of each stakeholder group to continue and improve after the project is completed. A network of networks will develop supported by the social and technical resources at the Network Hub. In this way we expect to build capacity and sustainability and demonstrate inclusivity.
We are actively fundraising for this programme through formal research bids, crowd-sourcing, philanthropic and corporate sponsorship.