VIII Forum on Education (VII). New landscapes and new requirements for Education and their professionals

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: forumedu2014.

Round table: New landscapes and new requirements for Education and their professionals.
Chairs: Jordi Collet, professor of the Departament of Pedagogy, Universitat de Vic.

Ismael Peña-López, professor of Public Policies for Development, UOC; Director of Open Innovation, Fundació Jaume Bofill.

Joan Subirats, professor of the Departament of Political Science and Public Law, UAB, and researcher at IGOP.

Fordism put us into massification, by standadizing many processes and outputs. Digitization puts us into individual needs and emotions.

Our present is a public national educational system, to educate masses, and fostered by the State. But the idea of nation is questioned, the idea of system is opposed to network, the idea of masses goes against personalization. Heterogeneity is here to stay.

If what is “public” is in crisis because of the crisis of the state (or the nation-states), how can we vindicate public education, what is public, from the individual point of view? or from the collective but non-governmental point of view?

The concept of expertise, of the expert, is also challenged.

Bauman: how to build intelligent missiles that change their trajectory as targets move or change. How do we maintain an educational structure that is notwithstanding able to adapt to the always changing targets and environment. Can we create cooperating universities? Or universities that are cooperatives?

How can we make up new methodologies and structures and, more important, how can we generate agreements and consensus on how to sustain these new methodologies and structures.

Discussion

Jordi Collet: is innovation ideologically neutral? Subirats: surely not. Peña-López: as innovation is the application of technology, and technology is the realization of science, it is very difficult to avoid adding ideology in each step of application.

Jordi Collet: how to go from theory to practice? Peña-López: 1) creating spaces of conversation, of sharing, enabling platforms, networks; 2) accelerate conversation; 3) foster skills to learn how to learn. Subirats: combining self-learning and processes of collaborative building.

Ramon Grau: how do we spread the gospel of innovation? how do we tear down the ancient regime? Peña-López: it may be just to soon for many people to acknowledge changes. It will take time and pedagogy. Subirats: raising awareness on new practices, new ways of doing things.

Q: How do we foster critical thinking and critical use of technology and networks? Peña-López: we should apply technology to improve training of trainers so that those can improve learning methodologies that can act upon pre-existing inequalities, as the knowledge gap hypothesis has evidenced again and again.

Joan Badia: How do we educate for uncertainty? what happens with values? Peñ-López: same answer as before: the Internet multiplies inequalities and values. We should act on the substrate at least to change the sign from negative to positive, so that when we multiply we are multiplying in positive. But changing or transferring values with technology and methodologies may not be the best way to change them. Subirats: fostering the idea that education is a common good (not a “public” good), and that it is in the interest of everyone to take care of it, to make it possible, to build it.

IX Fòrum Educació (2014)

VIII Forum on Education (VI). What did it mean to my personal and professional experience belonging to an innovation network

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: forumedu2014.

Round table: What did it mean to my personal and professional experience belonging to an innovation network.
Chairs: Miquel A. Alegre, membre de l’Institut Català d’Avaluació de Politiques Públiques (Ivàlua).

Martí Olivella, director de Nova – Innovació Social.

Enabling learning is like being a sower. The teacher seeds and grows seeds of transformation in fields of opportunity and is persistent so that seeds can germinate, grow and produce.

If there is no crisis, there is not an opportunity of change.

Innovation is about making happen things that are statistically unlikely.

Examples:

  • Fighting against the compulsory military service through objection of conscience or insubmission.
  • For a better quality of democracy. Deliberation is not voting: citizen parlaiament.
  • Rethink cities as transition towns.

Keys for transformation:

  • Social innovation: structural transformation. To ask ourselves what we are doing and why is already an transformer action.
  • Network: a team of teams with synergies.
  • Educational: we transform ourselves by transforming others. Education for transformation = transformation for education.
  • Passion.

Agnès Barba, founder of the Xarxa 0-6 de Bellvitge and director of the School els Encants de Barcelona.

To create a network of schools and all other people outside of schools that have to do, in some way, with education. The goal being how to make a comprehensive accompaniment to kids’ learning.

When a new school is created, the only way to create it is by taking into account all the stakeholders and agents related with the education of kids. And that is done through networks.

A basic aspect for a network to work is meeting together, talking, discussing, exchanging information, feelings, doubts, approaches, proposals.

Jordi Adell, coordinator of the Centre for Education and New Technologies of the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (CENT).

Belonging to networks of teachers is highly transforming and reshapes how one faces their own teaching.

Educational institutions are beginning to shift from being isolated places where education happens, to be nodes of huge networks that enable learning.

Networks work well if one contributes to them: the more you give, the more you get.

Networks are a window to the world: my classroom is the world. There still are many degrees of freedom within the educational system and networks are one of them.

There are a lot of emerging teaching and learning methodologies, many of them enabled by technology. There is a lot of innovation ongoing and we must make it visible, share it.

For complex systems, good practices do not work. Good practices are good for simple or complicated systems, but not for complex systems. For complex systems we must look not at practices, but at patterns.

For analysing and realizing patterns, theories work very well. Theory is not opposed to practice, but complementary.

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VIII Forum on Education (V). Leading today’s centers: challenges of an innovative center

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: forumedu2014.

Round table: Leading today’s centers: challenges of an innovative center.
Chairs: Ferran Ruiz, president of the School Council of Catalonia.

Is it possible to consolidate and maintain innovative learning environments? What changes — regulation, budget, culture — should be introduced? What experiences can be used as a reference?

Ramon Grau, director of the INS Quatre Cantons of the Network of Innovative High Schools of the ICE-UAB.

Sometimes a change is required to enable further changes: a change of scenario, a change of team, or just building a new school or high school.

Three main ideas:

  • The student should work in the classroom: listen, speak, interact. This has an impact on the inner architecture of the physical spaces.
  • The student should have autonomy. Thus, no coursebooks.
  • The student should be proficient in managing information. Put questions, search for answers. Students should be able to provide evidence, to explain what they have learnt.

To do this, the centre works with the “globalized” model developed after Ovide Decroly. The centre also accepts requests from other institutions (theatres, museums, fablabs) for collaboration, with which they develop the globalized work after an external request. The students then develop these requests (write a play, multimedia content for a piece of art, create a short film) that are supervised by these institutions.

Mariona Monterde, head of studies at the School Serralavella, Ullastrell.

The school is highly commited with values and quality. The classroom is not a place, but a context for learning, learning being the ability of the students to put questions to themselves. In the classroom research processes are initiated to that answers to the former questions can be find.

This research heavily relies on conversation, on the exchange of information, ideas, feelings, etc.

As this is a project based on reflection, the project explicitly includes several measures and tools to enable reflection, not only within the project, but about it: pedagogical reflection, share experiences developed in the classroom, etc.

One of the main challenges for the sustainability of the project is the high rotation of the team: experiences are lost and newcomers get lost. Thus, monitoring and tutoring of most experiences and people is the way to try to maintain some coherence and continuity of the project. With the added problem of how to draw a possible schedule, how to avoid burnout, how to avoid an overwhelming workload.

This monitoring has to be highly flexible, and provide lots of room for the newcomer to experiment himself and to change the project itself.

Not all families understand the school project. Most of the times, they feel they lose control upon the education of their children, as their children do “different things” than the ones they parents did at school. The solution is to engage parents in the educational project.

Some concluding remarks:

  • The school has become a place for the teachers for continuous learning and training.
  • The school has become a place for the students where to learn how to be autonomous, critical.

Joan Badia, co-coordinator of the Project Leading for learning of the Fundació Jaume Bofill.

What are the elements of leadership that explain the improvements in education? Leadership is the engine of change for education by introducing innovation.

One common characteristic of leading and innovative centres is that teachers state that they learn from the students: everyone is learning. The most significant changes are the ones experienced at the personal level, including the teaching staff. And learning means, of course, deciding, participating, exploring, sharing, designing, deciding (again).

Discussion

Q: is there a room for the coursebook in this scenario? Ramon Grau: it depends on the context. If the goal is sheer literacy or the transmission of basic knowledge, then it does have a place; but if the goal is the creation of new knowledge, then the coursebook is a barrier and not an enabler. Same with homework: homework will depend on the context, on the activities that are planned: sometimes homework will not be necessary, sometimes will be required as a starting point for the following day.

Ismael Peña-López: how should families adapt to these changes? Badia: this is impossible to answer, as there is not a unique model of family or, strictly speaking, not a model. Grau: the least we should aim at is that families understand what centres are doing, that they are engaged, that they share what is being done at the school or high school.

Q: how teacher training reproduces traditional methodologies or how can it foster new ones? Grau: it is true that, generally speaking, teacher training reproduces traditional methodologies and approaches and it is practice what brings innovation in.

Q: what happens when standardized exams make it almost impossible to introduce any methodological change? Ramon Grau: why cannot we work differently in specific courses despite the pressure of standardized exams?

Jordi Adell: do we know how to make the “click” for change? Badia: no, we don’t. We know that some scenarios, some factors help, but do not know exactly how to trigger this “click”.

IX Fòrum Educació (2014)

VIII Forum on Education (IV). Innovation in times of change of era

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: forumedu2014.

Round table: Innovation in times of change of era
Chairs: Enric Roca, professor of the Department of Systematic and Social Pedagogy, UAB.

What values and what frameworks promote innovation? Which ones are a barrier to it? What characterizes innovative schools and innovative projects?


Joaquim Brugué, director of the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), UAB.

As these are times of change, it seems common sense that institutions should change too. Thus, innovation look like the best means to drive this change. But change makes change more complex. Problems become wicked, problems that cannot be simplified or reduced to simpler components. There is no simple answer or, simply, not just one single answer.

BUT: instead of trying to approach wicked problems in different and many ways, what institutions are doing is to specialize put all their effort in being more efficient and effective in their field of specialization… leaving wicked problems unsolved or, at least, providing wicked problems with one single perfect solution that actually does not solve all the complexity of the given issue.

This is the approach of a technocratic society or a technocratic organization that creates no externalities, no networks, no lateral vision.

Màrius Martínez, professor of the Departament of Applied Pedagogy, UAB.

We heavily rely on our own mindsets and mental frameworks, which drag us and stop us from looking at problems from different points of view.

Only dialogue can make these mindsets emerge, ideas be exchanged, and mindsets be changed, or adapted to others’.

There is a need to have a culture of transformation, of “why not?”, to give a chance to change, to transformation.

Once there is such a culture, innovation becomes explicit — not tacit — and can be transferred, replicated.

We have to have a systemic point of view, to look at the whole so that we can clearly frame the problems, the resources, the possibilities.

Trust and accountability, not suspicion and control.

Leadership has to be strong, but distributed, leaving room for collaboration and participation.

Provide resources, especially time, but with some planning, with deadlines, so that accountability can happen.

Emphasis on learning, on development. Innovation has to target learning, learning of the students or of the teaching stuff, but innovation has to lead to learn more and better things. And innovation has to be also an acknowledgement. The acknowledgement that (1) something is wrong and (2) it is wrong that something it is wrong. And, thus, it has to be fixed. Learning and equity are linked to innovation.

Martínez: innovation requires a shared project. And this shared project, or vision, is usually illustrated with a motto. The shared project and motto helps in building a story, a tale, a dialogue.

Discussion

Enric Roca: Does everyone has to be an innovator in their same role? Can we specialize? Should we not?

Quim Brugué: there should not be such a role as “the innovator”. Instead, conditions have to be created where innovation can happen. These conditions include, most of the times, dialogue and the hybridization of approaches.

Màrius Martínez: in an innovative environment, people feel like agents, agents of change. So, yes there is a need to find agents of change. Distributed leadership is about identifying the existing talent and putting it to work. In this train of thought, maybe the term “good practices” is not as good as “practices of reference”.

Quim Brugué: we have to be aware that what we take for learning is not sheer imitation. This is the risk of having “practices of reference” which, in the end, evolve into bad copies.

Màrius Martinez: the currículum should be put in crisis and, in this exercise, the student should have a leading role.

Q: why most institutions and people deny complexity? Màrius Martinez: sometimes it is a matter of perception, that is, of not perceiving complexity. Quim Brugué: sometimes because complexity is a blocking scenario and, thus, decision-makers rather approach not complexity but simplicity, where traditional rules and tools used to work.

IX Fòrum Educació (2014)

VIII Forum on Education (III). Building innovative learning environments

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: 9forumice.

Round table: Building innovative learning environments.
Chairs: M. Carme Armengol, professor, Departament of Applied Pedagogy, UAB.

How are these innovative learning environments? What needs do they fill? Why are they innovative? What can be learnt from them?

Ramon Barlam, coordinator of Projecte Espurna, ICE-UAB

4 dimensions of educational innovation:

  • Person: projects addressed to the individual.
  • Group: projects addressed to groupbuilding.
  • Centre: projects designed at the educational centre level.
  • Network:

When working in a network:

  • it is mandatory to adapt the activities to the needs of everyone;
  • sometimes adding is better than multiplying;
  • consider new tools; consider emergent methodologies;
  • vindicate the professionalization of innovation.
  • consider innovation that is sustainable, and not necessarily state-of-the-art.

Roser Argemí, coordinator of the Magnet Programme, Alliances for educational success, Fundació Jaume Bofill.

The Magnet Programme is aimed at fighting imbalances within the educational system, identifying school segregation and, thus, improve its its quality and the success of schooling.

In the Magnet Programme, an educational centre partners with a referent organization to transform the centre and improve the perception of quality and approval of the centre so that families increase their attachment to it.

One of the main assets of the programme is that it gathers different types of people so that they can work together.

The programme heavily relies on a strong leader, but also on an engaged team, aware of the big challenges that their (“segregated”) centre faces, but positive on the possibilities of change. The key to success in innovation is collaborative work, communities of practice, engagement in everyone’s work.

Another requisite for such a project to have success is a certain degree of stability, especially stability of the components of the team, as its results only come in the medium term.

A (still) open question is whether quality and equity can happen together and not as a trade-off.

Carme Oriol, head of studies of Joan Maragall School from the Schools that Learn Network, ICE-UAB.

Did we innovate? If yes, why did we do that? We surely innovate to survive: standing still, sitting on a fence was not an option in a changing world. The school has always felt isolated: it lies 4km away from the urban area; it belongs to a marginalized quarter from the city; it has little relationship with parents, as students take the bus to the centre [note: not usual for urban schools in Spain]. The group of students is highly heterogeneous, with many different origins and mother languages. In his scenario, the traditional way of teaching just did not work.

So, what comes first is reflecting about the issues and getting some (or a lot of) training, to find out new ways to face the new challenges. Then comes imagining what tools will be required to go on with actual action. But how to maintain continuity and coherence of the actions undertaken? Or, on the contrary, how to prevent accelerated activism? There is a need for creating a trust chain and to organize environments that enable reflection, sharing knowledge, training.

Discussion

Q: how should organizational structures of the organizations be like to be able to implement such innovation projects. Carme Oriol: maybe the newest factor is creating environments where information flows in, reflection and learning happens, and decisions and priorities are made based on evidence. More than focussing on hierarchies and making direct decisions, the organization should aim at making debate happen so that everyone can make their own decisions.

Q: in the Magnet Project, what happens after the 4 years that the project usually lasts? Roser Argemí: it is obvious that after 4 years the centres and their environment will not be radically transformed. The focus of the project is changing the inner structure of the centre so that, when the project is officially over, it actually lasts grounded on the organizational change that the centre underwent.

Q: will the “normal” school ever innovate and transform itself? Ramon Barlam: the most difficult thing is maintaining the pace of innovation. And the problem is not usually the inner structure, but the educational, social and regulatory environment. This is especially relevant in secondary education. The dimension of the centre is, nowadays, the one that causes most failures.

More information

IX Fòrum Educació (2014)

VIII Forum on Education (II). Seminar on innovation in education: making up a hypothetical case of educational innovation

Notes from the Forum on Education. Innovation and networking, organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE-UAB) and the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP), and held in Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain, in January 10 and 11, 2014. More notes on this event: 9forumice.

Seminar on innovation in education: making up a hypothetical case of educational innovation
Chairs: Quim Brugué, UAB-IGOP.

In groups of 4-5 people make up a hypothetical case of educational innovation. This is what happened in my group.

Needs

  • Autonomy.
  • Collaboration.

Deficits, challenges

  • Compartmentalization of learning.
  • Compartmentalization of the curriculum.
  • No work for competences, focus on certification. Assessing content vs. skill-centred processes (not skills).
  • Teaching skills, professional identity. Specialization vs. pedagogical skills.
  • Excessive focus of the educational system towards the university. Academicist vision.
  • Lack of answers for diversity, for flexibility.
  • The system focuses on providing answers, not on putting good questions.
  • Censorship to critical thinking, servitude to the authority.
  • Passiveness, inertia, comfortability.

Conceptual turn

  • Lay out questions instead of providing answers.
  • Projects instead of subjects. Multidisciplinarity.
  • Work teams instead of class groups.
  • Oral exposition.
  • That the students prepare topics and share what they know. That students can bring in their own knowledge. Learning with a purpose.
  • Cotutoring.

Proposals for intervention

  • Importance of the role of student. Empowering the student.
  • Change of roles of teachers.
  • E.g. students leading their own assessment meetings with teaching staff and parents.

Operational turn, organizational changes.

  • Changes in the learning environments, that not everything “happens in presence of” the teacher.
  • Shift towards personal learning environments (PLEs).
  • Spark learning through questions (the teacher puts questions, instead of providing answers).
  • Be able to welcome questions (the teacher is able to manage the questions of the students).
  • Transform assessment centred in learning (of skills).
  • Change schedules to generate a reflective practice of the teaching staff upon what they are doing.

IX Fòrum Educació (2014)