Under the umbrella of the Schooling for Tomorrow programme (SfT), the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and the Mexican Ministry of Education (SEP) have launched a new project on alternative models of learning and innovation. It represents an ambitious extension of the scope of SfT the need for which had been identified for some time. But it has only now become possible to embark on with the lead role Mexico is taking in providing the necessary mix of analysis and on-the-ground experience of learning innovation.
Where does this need to extend SfT come from? At various times, participants have observed:
SfT has been more focused on education than learning and most strongly on schooling itself – we risk limiting our perspectives on the future by assuming that it will take the form of schools more or less as we know them.
The SfT trends and scenarios have been painted with very broad brushstrokes – big developments going on in society and the economy, and the future of organised education as systems. But we should also bring forward what happens at the micro level, in how people teach and learn and get educated – as individuals, and in groups, communities and networks.
These observations lead to challenging questions: what might learning and teaching for young people itself look like in the future, from a more detailed perspective than when systems are the focus? What models might inspire us to think of the forms this might take? Might we work towards learning scenarios, going beyond the school system scenarios already developed? Which innovation has allowed/encouraged alternative models or ways of (formal or informal) learning?
The goal is to construct a framework through which to visualise and analyse new models for learning and teaching that may inspire future developments throughout OECD countries and beyond. This will call for different types of input and the study is being constructed through combining:
i) a synthesis from different sources of knowledge about learning and innovation from OECD countries in general, and Mexico in particular, as it informs the research questions of this project;
ii) in-depth case studies of inspiring alternatives of learning organisation, which are focused especially on learning situations for vulnerable populations;
iii) other innovations in Mexico which will not be reviewed in-depth specifically for this study but which will add to the evidence base;
iv) a framework for future analysis beyond the June 2006 Mexico conference which will help to shape international work on learning and innovation.
The empirical analysis at the core of the “Alternative Models of Learning and Innovation: the Mexican Experience” thus comes from the case studies being carried out in Mexico, to reveal different aspects of learning and their pointers for schooling in the future (ii. above). The point of elaborating these different outcomes and sources of evidence is to show that the case studies are not ends in themselves, central though they are to the overall study, but will need to be interpreted both to locate them in the bigger range of possible learning models/ways and to translate the Mexican experience into the broader range of environments.
International SfT Conference, on "Alternative Models for Learning and Innovation", and including other CERI activities, held in Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico on 14-16 June 2006.
Find out more on the CERI Innovative Learning Environments Project.
OECD Country Website - Mexico