Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Friday, May 16, 2008

Imaginings to develop innovation through networked learning

I'm excited because I have been able to organise David Jackson to come and spend a day working with colleagues.
In 2006 as part of my Churchill Fellowship I spent a day with David Jackson at the Networked Learning Group of the NCSL. The conversations and learnings from this day were significant.
It was from this day that I was introduced the the Three Fields of Knowledge.

From Networked Learning Communities: Learning about learning networks.

David, in my conversation with him in 2006, described the model of learning as follows:

In a learning activity there are three fields of knowledge and they should be represented in roughly equal proportions.

One of those fields is the knowledge that practitioners bring to the table. And that is where we should start, just as we do in the classroom with children. We build on prior knowledge. So we should honour, respect and build from the knowledge of practitioners.

Practitioners’ knowledge has two dimensions to it. One is their practitioner knowledge. The other is their context knowledge. The second one is really important because no one else has it. The knowledge of how to do it in our school is really a very important thing to bring to the table.

The second field of knowledge is the publicly available knowledge which we define as theory, research and the best practice elsewhere.

The third field of knowledge, which is where the whole construct of networking comes, is the new knowledge that we create together through collaborative, inquiry-based practices by building from the first two fields.

- David Jackson, Director, Network Learning Group, National College of School Leadership (meeting: 09/06/2006)

There is much that interests me about Networked Learning Communities in supporting innovation. The concepts of networking, learning, and communities when brought together can be quite powerful - as well as complex.

New concepts and learnings emerge from Networked Learning, Learning Networks, Networked Communities, Learning Communities, Networked Learning Communities.

I had this notion in my head that even if we had this holy grail of knowledge in our hand, if we had the knowledge that could transform the system, the system wouldn’t change because it isn’t orientated towards learning.

- David Jackson (meeting: 09/06/2006)

There are several things that I would like to follow up with David. These include:

  • Orientating systems towards learning
  • Working with the Three fields of knowledge to build system capacity
  • Designing and learning from networked learning communities
  • Identifying some of the pitfalls, danger spots and road blocks in working with large scale networks
  • Working with next practice thinking around professional learning, system learning and school improvement
  • Imagining a system where amazing practice was made visible and readily transferred to other sites
  • Imagining a system where the learning is transferred laterally across the system
  • Reskilling/reorientating the profession to networked learning and innovation.

At the heart is a focus on learning!

Probably the most powerful thing in our work is our model of learning. One of the points we make to people is that everyone is talking about learning, but what are the constructs in our heads when we use the word. Unless we all share a construct and understand what the disciplines are of the learning work we’re talking about then we are actually not going to go forward.

- David Jackson (meeting 09/06/2006)

One thing we know is that ‘top down’, outside-in change approaches are not working well in the medium to long term. School reforms have not succeeded in closing the gap in educational achievement between the most and least advantaged. Part of the solution lies within the profession, working within specific contexts. How are the insights and imaginations of practitioners and users to be employed in powerful and generative ways to develop innovation?


Judy Martin said...

Andrew, I really enjoyed reading this post on your blog. I have only recently discovered the immense value in the learning networks created by edublogs.

I've been tapping into some really innovative teaching practices and learning technologies coming out of Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. The phrase 'next practice' seems to be cropping up wherever I go lately - there and here. Thanks to your ppt I understand what it means now.

How often have I touted the phrase 'best practice', thinking it was the 'be all and end all'? Naive of me, really.

When you catch up with David, I'd be interested to know what the two of you discuss in terms of imagining a system where learning is transferred laterally across the system. The connection of this idea to teacher professional learning interests me greatly.

Anonymous said...

nice post. I would love to follow you on twitter.

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