Recognition of the importance of pedagogy has been growing in OECD’s educational work as in drives to reform schooling around the world. The common policy variables of structures, institutional arrangements, and resourcing are relatively far removed from pedagogy and practices on the ground that most directly influence learning - what is often dubbed “the classroom” (even if a great deal of learning takes place outside classrooms). Earlier CERI work on Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) placed the “pedagogical core” and learning design principles at the heart of innovative, powerful learning environments, yet without systematic examination of the different pedagogies themselves.
Because pedagogical relations play out through the interactions of learners and educators in innumerable episodes – which are extremely hard to capture in a single system let alone across many - this has proved an elusive area for international analysis. There is need for detailed understanding of the pedagogical choices while moving beyond simplistic dichotomies like traditional vs non-traditional or direct instruction vs constructivist.
There is also growing recognition around the world that it is not just necessary to get closer to the heart of teaching and learning but that there should be a widespread readiness to innovate. Mainstream education needs to be more engaging and relevant to young people, the knowledge and skills being fostered need to change in tune with the world of the 21st century, and they need to be learned deeply so that young people can adapt expertly to changing problems and circumstances. Hence, the extension in the project title “for powerful learning”.
Given this background, the aims of IPPL are to:
The new project is elaborating concepts and a framework. It needs a lens through which to examine the innovative pedagogies compiled through the desk research and fieldwork.
For this we have developed the “Cs” framework:
As well as analysing these different aspects, it will be important to capture the essence of key innovative pedagogies as we cannot assume familiarity with the different approaches being tried in classrooms and elsewhere. As far as possible we will do this through the Cs framework lens – combinations, content, change, context, and connoisseurship.
Operational work will allow us to move beyond research synthesis and clarification, generating original project findings and the engagement of key innovators in different countries. In other words, our ambition is to change and promote, as well as to analyse and understand.
Giving a prominent place in the fieldwork to networks of innovative schools builds on one of the main findings emerging from ILE – the importance of the “meso” level. Related CERI work on governance and complexity privileges the role of networks. To examine existing chains, clusters and networks means to focus on configurations that already implement common approaches with a certain degree of “scale”. In short, they have a wealth of interesting (often untapped) practice to share.
These have been selected by the project team based on diverse sources of information, rather than proposed by countries. We are addressing these networks directly with a questionnaire, focusing on the overall approaches taken, specific questions on the pedagogies, and how the network itself influences the approaches and pedagogies. We are addressing both network organisers and leaders/practitioners nearer to teaching and learning.
The first phase of the project will bring this all together into a report to be published by OECD in the first half of 2018. This first publication will comprise an OECD Secretariat report and a set of expert chapters on which the Secretariat report will draw.
The contents of the second phase will start to become clear with the preparation of the draft publication and the advice of the CERI Governing Board. It might include case studies of particular innovative networks and their approaches to teaching and learning. It could deepen the analysis of certain dimensions of the Cs framework, including content and connoisseurship. It may be more explicitly operational if it creates an international community of practice. There will be further publications and events. We will be drawing closer connections with related CERI work such as on Innovative Teaching for Effective Learning (ITEL) and Creativity.