We’re excited to report the unfolding story about how we are using the groundbreaking work of Tony Bryk‘s team on Design, Educational Engineering and Development (DEED), as a methodology for systemic school change. This is combined with the University of Bristol’s Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI), which forms part of a process of Authentic Inquiry (AI) for students, teachers and leaders. The insights from these prototypes are then shared via a novel website, from the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute, for harnessing Collective Intelligence (CI), called the Evidence Hub. This is an exciting convergence, since as you are about to see, the school piloting this reports that it has catalysed a profound shift in how they think about professional development.
On 15th July 2013 the Centre for Systems Learning and Leadership at the University of Bristol held a seminar with teachers and leaders from Oasis Academy John Williams who had identified student engagement in learning as a complex problem which they wanted to get to grips with and improve. They formed a Networked Improvement Community with colleagues from the University (NICs are a powerful concept developed by Doug Engelbart, whose work has since been applied by Tony Bryk – see below).
They told an exciting story about an experiment to engage a cohort of middle and senior teachers in their own accredited professional enquiries into student engagement through rapid prototyping: test fast – fail fast and early – learn and improve. Each of the seven teachers gained 20 credits from the MSc in Systems Learning and Leadership through their enquiry – through collaborative seminars held in school and at the University.
Ruth Deakin Crick introduced the project with an overview of the key ideas:
- Learners are themselves a ‘complex system’
- Deep learning (by students; teachers; leaders; organisations) is a journey from purpose to performance, which can be scaffolded by an authentic enquiry methodology
- Aligning professional learning to organisational purpose at several levels in schools as complex living systems provides a rich architecture for improvement.
These ideas have been drawn from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teacher Education, particularly this paper Getting Ideas into Action: Building Networked Improvement Communities in Education by Tony Bryk and colleagues. This is combined with University of Bristol’s own research into Learning Power (as quantified by ELLI) and the pedagogy and methodology of Authentic Enquiry.
Rebecca Clark (Executive Principal & Regional Academies Director) provided the context for the research in terms of the historical, social, and economic factors which shape the community’s expectations in education, and the continuing journey of change which the school is on. She share insights gained from her own study and the project and how these may be applied, and developed further in the wider strategic setting of the family of Oasis Academies.
HARNESSING COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
Simon Buckingham Shum, Professor at the Open University and visiting fellow at Bristol, described the way in which the project is harvesting the learning from these seven enquiries and making it available not only to colleagues in their own school, but globally, through the Evidence Hub for Systems Learning and Leadership. This is a site you can explore, and we encourage you to sign up to subscribe to alerts, and begin sharing your own insights. [Evidence Hub research paper]
Phil (Assistant Principal) and Richard are two teachers at the Academy who developed their own authentic enquiries. They are at different stages in their careers and teach different subjects. They explained how the project has changed them as teachers, as well as their practice, and has had an impact on the engagement of their students.
Simon then explored Phil’s story distilled on the Evidence Hub [view on Hub]:
Richard’s enquiry focused the development of resilience with his to set Science class – challenging them by setting problems which were unsolvable in order to understand that confusion and failure is all part of learning.
Simon then demo’d Richard’s story distilled on the Evidence Hub [view on Hub]:
As Phil and Richard’s stories are now tied to the Evidence Hub entry for Oasis Academies, when you view the Oasis homepage, you see their work:
This is just the beginning of the story for this Networked Improvement Community in Bristol, which will be continuing during the next academic year with the Centre for Systems Learning and Leadership.
We warmly invite you to add comments below, or join the reflective conversation on the Evidence Hub if you have issues to raise, or evidence-based claims/solutions to share.