In relation to how schools and stakeholders build effective learning networks and collaboration around outcomes, the following fourteen links may be of interest. With each link, a key success factor (for optimising collaboration, co-design, personalisation and outcomes in student learning, development, health and wellbeing) is also profiled (in green). All fourteen factors are included in a table at the end of the note.
1.Inside-out and downside-up: how leading from the middle has the power to transform education systems
Steve Munby and Michael Fullan. At https://www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/~/media/EDT/files/News/f-global-dialogue-inside-out-and-downside-up-feb.pdf
In proposing a model of school collaboration, Munby & Fullan observe that:
All schools should be involved in focused, productive networks within which leaders, teachers, parents and students challenge, support, innovate and learn from one another in substantive ways that measurably improve outcomes
The ‘job description’ of a successful leader includes being an exceptional networker and connector of people, with the ability to broker constructive relationships where none may have looked possible
Some formal networks can risk being merely or mainly frameworks for vertical accountability
The partnership should go beyond relationships between school leaders to really engage with students, teachers, families and communities, including listening to the student and parent voice and the engagement of governing bodies and community groups.
Key success factor 1: how networks are creating unprecedented opportunities for students, teachers, families, communities and schools to not only collaborate but to develop truly shared responsibility for outcomes
2.Towards new learning networks
Tim Rudd, Dan Sutch and Keri Facer. At https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/FUTL56/FUTL56.pdf
Rudd, Sutch & Facer challenge assumptions that underpinned, historically, the organisation of education and schooling and suggest that:
The main point: personalised learning (e.g., Steigler-Peters & Schweer, 2011; Wolf, 2010; Goodwin, 2010; Weigel, James & Gardner, 2009; Campbell et al, 2007; DEECD, 2007; Leadbeater, 2005; Hargreaves, 2004; Vygotsky, 1978) is the flipside of collaboration. It is obviously not new – teachers have long developed it – but the opportunities to advance it are. These include digital tools and networks to bring it to scale and to deepen it.
Therefore, personalised, seamless, networked learning (Abbey & Baylis, 2011; DEECD, 2007) may be defined as the process by which school leaders, teachers, students, parents, mentors, health professionals and community members all help to strengthen the match between:
- •Teaching and learning. The many different kinds of learning content, strategies, opportunities and support across the contexts of location, time, device and setting
- •The individual learner as a whole person with particular needs, interests, strengths and goals and a specific social, cultural and linguistic background and skills set.
Key success factor 2: how deeply personalised learning can only develop through strong teams, networks and partnerships
The series of Open University reports (from 2012 to 2015) exploring forms of teaching, learning, curricula and assessment for an interactive world. All of the reports are located at http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/innovating/
Providing insights into how teaching, learning, content knowledge, digital tools and networks are co-evolving, particularly through the on-going development of personalised and seamless learning (across locations, times, technologies and social settings), among the big themes in the series are:
Key success factor 3: how digital technologies, networks, the breadth, depth and richness of curriculum content and effective teaching, learning and assessment are co-evolving and transforming education
4.Nathalia Learning Community
Country Education Project case study of a cluster-based and cross-sectoral model. At http://www.viccso.org.au/news-and-blog/61/learning-community-case-study
The Nathalia Learning Community includes Nathalia Secondary College, St Marys of the Angels Catholic Secondary College, St Francis Primary School, Nathalia Primary School, Barmah Kindergarten and Occasional Care Centre and Nathalia and District Pre School Centre.
The network applies the concept of ‘collaborative autonomy’ – education organisations working and learning together with a shared purpose while retaining a sense of autonomy and uniqueness – and strives to:
Key success factor 4: placing students and their learning, developmental, health and wellbeing outcomes at the centre of everything that a network does
5.Networks as communities of practice: achieving excellence and equity
Department of Education and Training. At http://www.bastow.vic.edu.au/Documents/CoP/Networks-as-Communities-of-Practice.pdf
Affirming that the best education systems in the world are highly networked, this DET document profiles a powerful strategy that includes:
Key success factor 5: the importance of a comprehensive and coherent framework for focusing efforts on the most significant factors and influences that support student success in school, learning and life
John Kania and Mark Kramer. At http://ssir.org/articles/entry/collective_impact
In advocating ‘collective impact’ in contrast to ‘isolated impact’, where organisations and groups mainly work alone in seeking to solve problems and improve practices and outcomes, Kania & Kramer propose five criteria for success:
- 1.All participants shape a common agenda
- 2.A shared measurement system for alignment and accountability
- 3.Mutually reinforcing activities, including the engagement of a diverse set of stakeholders, typically across sectors
- 4.Open and continuous communication
- 5.A backbone organisation, with staff and specific knowledge and skills to serve the entire initiative and coordinate efforts.
Key success factor 6: open and continuous communication and a backbone organisation – indeed, the expectation that collaboration can be built (without a supporting infrastructure, funding and a strong governance structure) is obviously a major reason why a vast collaborative potential may not be realised
7.Essential features of effective networks
Santiago Rincón-Gallardo and Michael Fullan. At http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/JPCC-09-2015-0007
Rincón-Gallardo & Fullan discuss effective networks that include:
Key success factor 7: how best to learn the fundamental lessons from research and evaluations about effective networks
8.Boundary spanning in action: tactics for transforming today’s borders into tomorrow’s frontiers
Lance Lee, David Magellan Horth and Chris Ernst. At https://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BoundarySpanningAction.pdf
Boundary spanning leadership is defined as the capability to establish direction, alignment and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal. The five types of boundaries are:
- 1.Vertical – across levels and hierarchy
- 2.Horizontal – across functions, skills and expertise
- 3.Stakeholder – across partnerships and communities
- 4.Demographic – across diverse groups (including age, gender, ethnicity, culture and socio-economic status)
- 5.Geographic – across distance and location.
A similar concept is, of course, ‘system leadership’ (e.g., Senge, Hamilton, & Kania, 2015; Fullan, 2014; Hopkins, 2009).
The educational leadership literature (e.g., Harris, 2013; Leithwood & Seashore Louis, 2012; Dufour & Marzano, 2011; Louis, Leithwood et al, 2010; Hallinger & Heck, 2010; Robinson, Lloyd & Rowe, 2008; Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2003) obviously provides many insights into how the relationship between leadership, collaboration and outcomes – if infused with sufficient focus, support, time, resources and networks for it to flourish – is the engine of a potentially huge acceleration in performance improvement.
Key success factor 8: the pivotal role of leadership that is collaborative, distributed and boundary spanning in order to co-develop direction, alignment and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal
9.The shared work of learning: lifting educational achievement through collaboration
In examining the pivotal role of collaboration in lifting student achievement as well as setting out an agenda for systemic change, Bentley & Cazaly:
- •Outline the negative consequences of a narrow focus on teacher quality
- •Discuss the fundamental importance of building shared goals and understanding with families for student achievement
- •Discuss the importance of growing community voice in decision-making and restructuring governance around learning
- •Advocate institutional investment in open data repositories and software applications for educational use together with other architecture that promotes sharing and pooling.
Key success factor 9: widely shared goals and governance around ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning together with school participation in local learning systems, open access networks and digital platforms that accelerate knowledge sharing and co-creation of innovations
10.Great Schools Network
Great Schools Network information brochure at http://www.viccso.org.au/userfiles/files/GREATSCHOOLS%20Network%20Brochure%202014.pdf and schools forum report at http://www.viccso.org.au/news-and-blog/49/schools-forum-report
The work of the Great Schools Network highlights three principles of effective school networks:
- 1.Collaborative and cross-sectoral. Better knowledge-sharing and collaboration among schools within and across the government, Catholic and independent sectors
- 2.Open, inclusive and multi-stakeholder. Supportive of strong learning relationships and social capital among principals, teachers, students, parents and community partners
- 3.Schools-based and organically developed. Fluid, flexible and participatory networks – co-owned and co-developed by schools through their own self-governance – that make it easier for schools to connect and co-create great practice, innovations and improvements.
A key challenge: enhanced online support for speedily facilitating cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and school community-based opportunities for knowledge sharing and joint work.
Key success factor 10: the importance of inclusive networks that are cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and co-owned by schools and stakeholders and, further, are supported by the very best digital tools
11.From professional learning community to networked learning community
David Jackson and Julie Temperley. At http://innovationunit.org/sites/default/files/From%20professional%20learning%20community%20to%20networked%20learning%20community.pdf
Jackson & Temperley discuss how networked learning communities are the means to make optimal use of three fields of knowledge:
1.Practitioner knowledge – what people know, including the practice and unique context knowledge practitioners bring to the table
2.Publicly available knowledge – theory, research, evidence and knowledge from best practice elsewhere
3.New knowledge that network members are able to create together through collaborative working and problem-solving.
Key success factor 11: optimal use of practitioner, publicly available and new knowledge within networks
12.Understanding learning networks
Karen Carter with Fred Paterson. At http://cmapspublic3.ihmc.us/rid=1JMB4ZJVN-6VQ95K-22BJ/nlc-understanding-learning-networks.pdf
Carter & Patterson identify twelve building blocks that can assist in our understanding of successful school learning networks and what theylook like in practice. These building blocks cohere interactively around:
Network foundations: grounding participative principles
Network infrastructure: building a collaborative design
Network innovation: transforming practice through innovation.
Key success factor 12: how a network not only provides practical support in the ‘here and now’ but also unites around an aspirational and moral purpose
13.Community leadership in networks
Kate Bond and Maggie Farrar. At http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/http:/www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/nlc_cdc_wawla03_01_Community%20leadership%20in%20networks%20%28Think%20Piece%201%29.pdf
Bond & Farrar discuss effective community leadership in networks that includes:
- •Exploring the practice of dialogue to facilitate engagement, planning and active participation and conducting ‘community conversations’
- Key success factor 13: practicing the art of dialogue – in sum, how we talk to each other, the questions we ask, our ability to listen without egos and resistance and our commitment to explore
14.Leading lateral learning: learning and change networks and the social side of school reform
In this analysis of the ‘Learning and Change Network’ initiative in New Zealand, involving networks of students, parents, teachers and community members from multiple schools, McKibben considers various practices including:
Key success factor 14: student learning as an ‘ecology’ of positive opportunities, strengths, needs and interests at school, at home and in the community