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Catalysts of digital innovation for school’s digital maturity

April 14, 2021

In our recently accepted paper The patterns of school improvement in digitally innovative schools (Pata et al., accepted 2021) to be published in Technology, Knowledge and Learning we discovered several catalyst variables that are important in the schools’ transition from one digital maturity level to the other:

‘Teachers’ role’ – teachers’ role is changing in digitally transformed schools and they start providing help to other teachers. Often this is a gradual growth of digitally innovative teachers towards taking informally or formally the role of educational technologist in the school. This finding relates to educator capacity development as a result of digital technology introduction in schools described by Haynes and Shelton (2018). 

‘Digital competence’ – the digital competencesare not taught separately but become an intervowen and invisible part of learning competences which will be developed as part of active learning practices by every subject teacher. It coincides with the digital technology and learning related results by Wong and Li (2011).

‘Structural change’ – the changes in learners’ and teachers’ roles towards more active learning and facilitation models bring along the structural changes in the curriculum, time management, classroom settings, extention of the learning spaces, usage and authorship of the learning resources. Sheninger (2014) has suggested the re-envisioning the learning environment as an important digital transformation component.

‘Participatory management’ – it is the change management instrument that creates shared visions and keeps these dynamically in the active mode at the classroom practices, school development and external partnership level. 

‘Leadership’ – it is the change management instrument, that can trigger through effective motivation management means the development of the learning organization where teachers, school management and IT management could share practices and learn from each other. Sheninger (2014) and Zhong (2017) have found the visionary and all-inculsive leadership important in schools’ digital transformation. Tam et al. (2018) and Spillane (2006) highlighted the role of distributed leadership supported by organizational sociocultural and institutional norms as the suitable form of organizational capital that promotes school improvement. Tam et al. (2018) relates distributed leadership to the increase of organizational capacity of ICT integration. We could observe in our digitally most mature schools’ Cluster that leadership, and possibly the teachers’ and learners’ demand for using digital devices more intensively in the subject lessons has promoted the IT-management for improving networks and services development.

‘Learning organization’– it is the active mutual learning attitude promoted by management with incentives that transforms the teachers to ‘explorative teachers’ who make pedagogical innovations by developing themselves, uptaking from other teachers, accommodating and and testing out new practices, collecting systemically feedback and reflecting to themselves, to learners and to colleagues about the valueable findings that should be widely applied in the school. Similarly, Leclerc et al. (2012) have found that teachers are creating shared values upon students’ learning. The sharing of new digital practices among teachers is driven by the proactive educational technologist who maintains organised regular learning circles in the school, and partnering and network events among the schools. In the study of Tam et al. (2018) the lead innovative teachers played similar role in Hongkong schools that were effectively digitally transformed.

 ‘IT- management’ – it is important that IT-management – creating strategies, deciding about digital tools, services and devices – is inclusive to teachers, students and management, and tightly associated with schools’ strategic plans, agendas and budgets. IT-manager should drive the infrastructure using the input from teachers’ expectations of conducting learning practices with digital tools and resources, and considering the digital competence development needs of the staff and students. In the Cluster 3 we could also observe that the separation of the IT-management from ‘Change management’ and ‘Teaching and learning practices’ may hinder the transition of schools to the systemically connected self-organized learning ecosystem stage.

 ‘Network’ – The active learning practices associate with increased usage of internet in the classrooms with students’ own digital devices and the wifi access in the school should cover these needs.

Differently from our expectation, ‘Digital practices’variable was not among the catalyst variables defining the school-clusters. We may argue that active learning practices with digital tools like co-creative, project-based and inquiry-based approaches have not yet transformed the Estonian schools to the new level that requires structural changes. We forsee that there is a potential that ‘Digital practices’ will start to play the leading role when school is able to pick up new ‘Change management’ approaches, and make structural and infrastructural changes as described above.

It is notable, that the ‘Digital infrastructure’ variables like ‘Devices’ and ‘Services’ were not the drivers of digital innovation in observed large sample of Estonian schools.

We also discovered that in the current period of digital transformation in Estonian schools, the ‘Analytics’ variable appeared not to be among the ‘catalysts’ of transforming the organizations. However, we predict that organizational changes must be evidence based, and in the future ‘Analytics’ such as from actual classroom practices, digital resource usage monitoring, competence gap monitoring, whole school digital maturity monitoring will be one of the variables that closes the loop of organizational learning and speeds up the change.

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Sustainability and responsiveness require developing capacities and capabilities

March 23, 2021
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Obstacles to school innovation

December 22, 2020

Open Schooling project https://www.openschools.eu/ has analyzed the obstacles of innovation in schools:

One of the biggest barriers to educational innovation is not the lack of great teachers or even the access to proper tools, it is the isolationist structure and dispersed nature of many schools and school authorities.

Tricks are acting as catalysts to the process:

Increase Mass– The more dominoes you have the longer the chain you can make. Be on the lookout for talent and get more of the right people in your school. The more innovative individuals you have in your school community the greater chance they will in uence each other.

Increase Density– Even having a lot of innovators might not guarantee a chain reaction if these people never get together. The closer these people are, the more likely they will be to share. Open days, workshops, and other in person events are great examples of moments of increased density. You will be amazed at the innovative energy produced by bringing the right people together in a closed space.

Increase Temperature– Temperature is really just a measurement of how fast molecules are bouncing off one another. Craft speci c times for staff sharing and exploration. The more opportunities you have for teachers to interact with other stakeholders, the more likely these innovative ideas are to move. Open the channels of communication and sharing in your community, mobilise local actors and encourage the transmission of ideas. Open to informal learning settings and industry. Involve more players from the out-of-school world in the process.

Increase Reflectivity– Even in a dense mass of radioactive material there are particles which stray outward, away from the other atoms.

The roadmap:

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Cocreation biographies method application

December 22, 2020

H2020 SISCODE project https://siscodeproject.eu/ has come out with very interesting deliverables looking cocreation and cocreation and innovation in policymaking settings. One method they use is cocreation biographies: “Co-creation Biographies are basically an in- depth biographic-interpretative methodology for analysing narratives of participants’ experiences in relation to the larger cultural matrix of society (Wengraf 2001). Through the combination of interviewing techniques, network analysis, and triangulation of data from the individual, structural and contextual level, co-creation processes are reconstructed from the first idea to their implementation. ” This method looks context of roles, context of functions, context of norms and context of structures in cocreation ecosystems at micro, meso and macro level. The report analyses all parts separately using a comparative approach, however interrleations within that ecosystemwere not revealed as could be done: “The four layers of the model can be considered separately, which helps to structure and analyze similar intervening factors in groups. In a following step, these factors can also be analyzed more deeply by elaborating on their interrelations and thereby visualizing the ecosystemic complexity as a whole.” (Kaletka et al. 2017)

https://siscodeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Masterdokument_D2.3-Comparative-Analysis-Report.pdf

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Citizen Science, Education, and Learning: Challenges and Opportunities

November 9, 2020

The paper from our efforts in COST action Citizen science in Eduation has come out in Frontiers in Sociology.

Citizen science is a growing field of research and practice, generating new knowledge and understanding through the collaboration of citizens in scientific research. As the field expands, it is becoming increasingly important to consider its potential to foster education and learning opportunities. Although progress has been made to support learning in citizen science projects, as well as to facilitate citizen science in formal and informal learning environments, challenges still arise. This paper identifies a number of dilemmas facing the field — from competing scientific goals and learning outcomes, differing underlying ontologies and epistemologies, diverging communication strategies, to clashing values around advocacy and activism. Although such challenges can become barriers to the successful integration of citizen science into mainstream education systems, they also serve as signposts for possible synergies and opportunities. One of the key emerging recommendations is to align educational learning outcomes with citizen science project goals at the planning stage of the project using co-creation approaches to ensure issues of accessibility and inclusivity are paramount throughout the design and implementation of every project. Only then can citizen science realise its true potential to empower citizens to take ownership of their own science education and learning.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2020.613814/abstract