Activating a Community of Practice: Innovate ELT Conference, Barcelona 2016, Emma Louise Pratt
Session @InnovateELT #iELT2016 Saturday 7th May 10am CEST Follow on the backchannel: #iELTsocial slides: http://ow.ly/4nbJ38 #iELT2016
Overcoming inertia: Communities of Practice
Social Learning is the informal learning that takes place in our fluid social spaces, and I argue these to be in face to face communities as well as online. They are the spaces where we expand our learning networks and gain knowledge on the fly. Our communities of practice help us make sense of that knowledge in a timely fashion. It's needs based learning. And it’s very necessary now.
Social Learning: Learn as You Use, Use as You Learn
Social learning isn’t new. Being from a farming family with generations of farmers behind me, stretching back to when Vikings bred their sheep on the Lakes District Fells, I know first-hand that this kind of community needs-based learning is, literally, as old as the hills. I am also a descendant of settlers who needed to make sense of a new world quickly to survive and thrive. I have grown up in New Zealand around marae*-based learning, which again, is community focused.
We still have a lot to learn from our heritage as learners. Coming from these communities, and being an autonomous learner myself is something culturally embedded. Something I take for granted.
I am currently working with a group of teachers on a CLIL preparation project. We are preparing ourselves to activate CLIL in our local school at primary level. The beauty of CLIL is that it isn’t prescribed. A CLIL framework is built from the ground up, contextualised to the school community that chooses to engage the methodology.
Co-Curating Our Learning
I was all excited about getting the teachers -my learners- involved with co-curating our learning. I had a vision of an online conversation, co-writing a narrative together for a vision of CLIL in our school, harnessing all the content that we found and uploaded, making sense of it together, expanding their knowledge of digital tools that could enhance learning in the classroom, expanding their PLNs and activating conversations with other practitioners. Then I hit the snag.
The key ingredient, that is agile, autonomous learners, was not embedded, nor was the energy or the time. I set up an Edmodo classroom for my learners. Three weeks later only one had signed up. The space remained a conversation with myself in a room of echoes. I would enter the class and my teachers had all donned the hat of passive learner, waiting for me to take them somewhere.
I needed to overcome this inertia and activate change in my learners.
Change Management and New Communities of Practice
But how can we be agents of change? How do we activate learners to take control of their learning? How can we equip them with the tools and know-how to be agile, collaborative learners?
The first change had to be with me. Autonomy has certainly been a buzz-word in the last two decades. I first encountered it in my work in museums back in the mid-nineties. The philosophical approach at the time was co-curatorship. It was about giving voice and control over to the community whose story was being told. The role of the museum curator was as a facilitator and enhancer of that knowledge.
Change begins with recognising habit, countering it, engaging consciousness and reflection. I recognised in me the habit of taking charge. I needed to get to the heart of my learners and find out what spun their wheels, what their fears were and how to hand ownership of their time with me over to them, with objectives articulated by them and for them. I also needed to find ways to weave into that narrative my own desires to disrupt their habits of teacher-centred teaching and course-book linear instruction, opening up possibilities in the classroom and beyond.
- what community, *social and co-curated learning is today and compares it briefly with our pasts and particularly my own learning heritage.
- The issues involved with change – in teachers and learners. For teachers to rethink their role and their control and also as agents of change, to help move learners from dormant, then to active participators in Social Learning.
- My reflections and evidence will come specifically from a case study of a small class of adult learners facing change, but with particularly fossilised in habits in an under-resourced school and varied digital literacy.
*Marae= Aotearoa New Zealand Māori tribal community spaces.
Aotearoa= The first name given to New Zealand prior to later colonisation in 1800s
*Social Learning= online community spaces.
A community reflects a participant’s “WHY” or purpose. #iELT16 #iELTsocial
Social learning happens where it’s relevant, not where it’s contrived. #iELTsocial #iELT16
Session @InnovateELT #iELT16 Thanks for tuning in. Presentation online soon: #iELTsocial slides: http://ow.ly/4nbJ38