Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Learning Networks of Schools: The Key Enablers of Successful Knowledge Communities

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Learning Networks of Schools: The Key Enablers of Successful Knowledge Communities

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. In an effort to intentionally create the level of deep learning necessary for practitioners to make meaningful changes in their classrooms, professional networks are increasingly being promoted as mechanisms for knowledge creation that can makes a difference for students. This paper explores the way networks function by testing a theory of action within the Network of Performance Based Schools (NPBS) in British Columbia, Canada. It presents networks as collaborative systems that support particular ways of working and find expression within two distinct organizational units - the network itself and its participant schools.

RÉSEAUX D'APPRENTISSAGE DES ÉCOLES : LES FACILITATEURS CLÉS DE LA RÉUSSITE DES COMMUNAUTÉS DU SAVOIR

RÉSUMÉ. Dans le but de créer un niveau d'apprentissage en profondeur (deep learning) nécessaire aux intervenants pour que ces derniers apportent des changements importants dans les salles de classe, les réseaux professionnels sont de plus en plus promis comme des mécanismes de création du savoir qui peuvent susciter le genre de changements qui feront une différence pour les élèves. Cet article permet d'explorer le mode de fonctionnement des réseaux en faisant l'essai d'une théorie de l'action au sein du réseau Network of Performance Based Schools (NPBS) en Colombie-Britannique, au Canada. Il décrit les réseaux comme des systèmes collaboratifs qui appuient des façons particulières de travailler et qui trouvent une application dans deux unités organisationnelles distinctes - le réseau lui-même et ses écoles participantes.

The world is becoming a networked environment. This is having a profound impact on the way we organize at the local, national and international level. (Church, Bitel, Armstrong, Fernando, Gould, Joss, Marwaha-Diedrich, de la Torre & Vouhé, 2002, pg. 1)

For decades, numerous school improvement models have attempted to reform the thinking and practices of practitioners with the explicit intent of increasing student success in schools. Introducing reforms into classrooms and schools has generally accomplished superficial changes to practices and outcomes that have not easily translated into sustainable improvement for student learning (Hargreaves, 2003). In an effort to intentionally create the level of deep learning necessary for practitioners to make meaningful changes in their classrooms, professional networks are increasingly being promoted as mechanisms for knowledge creation that can lever the kinds of changes that make a difference for students. Although many different education-based networks have emerged in England, the U.S., and Canada, there is no existing theory of action that elucidates the mechanism by which networks work for student success. This paper responds to this need by exploring the way networks function by testing a theory of action within the Network of Performance Based Schools (NPBS) in British Columbia, Canada.

NETWORRK THEORY

The OECD study on sustainable flexibility (OECD, 1997) points to the changing nature of work and life in the knowledge society of the 21st century. In this society, lifelong learning is a cornerstone of the flexibility necessary for highly skilled and educated citizens to take on new tasks and continuously adapt to new and changing environments. As we exit the industrial age, characterized by a "finite" conception of resources, a "controllable" conception of information, and a "sequential and task-specific" conception of learning, the notion of networks takes on increased relevance (Allen & Cherrey, 2000). Specifically, networks provide an operational construct for educational provision and a new vehicle for achieving change.

In this knowledge society, practices for facilitating knowledge creation and sharing are considered to be the key tenets of educational provision. Knowledge will be, and perhaps already is, the most critical resource for social and economic development (Hakkarainen, Palonen, Paavola, & Lehtinen, 2004). …

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