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Epistemic fluency perspectives in teaching and learning practice: Learning to lead innovation and change

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Capacities to drive collective learning, address jointly complex practical challenges and create innovative solutions are seen essential for future graduates. How to prepare students to lead complex collaborative learning, change and innovation projects? How to assist them to develop knowledge and skills needed for resourceful teamwork with other people who have different expertises, experiences, and interests?
Systems, Change and Learning is a blended graduate course in the Maters of the Learning Sciences and Technology program that aims to develop students’ capacities to lead complex organisational learning and educational innovation projects. Rooted in systems theories, cybernetics and the learning sciences, this course: 1) introduces students to the theoretical approaches and methods for understanding complexity, facilitating individual learning and managing change, and 2) provides them with practical experiences to engage in systems inquiry and collaborative innovation design projects.
The course draws on the second-order pedagogy and grants students’ agency to design not only the innovation, but also their own learning and innovation process and environment. Students choose complex real life organisational learning or educational change challenges and, over the course of the semester, work in small innovation teams by analysing an encountered problematical situation, modelling possible scenarios and developing innovative solutions. As a result, each team creates a practical guide for Change and Innovation Managers who will be tasked with implementing the proposed innovation in an organisational setting.
The main emphasis is on fostering expansive learning and deliberative innovation culture trough cultivating systems thinking, design practice and responsive action. Through engaging in systemic inquiry, innovation design tasks and authentic teamwork, students develop a number of graduate attributes that are critical for joint learning and knowledge-informed, responsive action in modern workplaces, such as analytical and integrative thinking, effective teamwork, multidisciplinary and intercultural competencies.
Evaluations show that this course promotes deep student engagement and brings about transformative learning experiences. It is now offered as an elective in two other interdisciplinary masters programs.

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Epistemic fluency perspectives in teaching and learning practice: Learning to lead innovation and change

  1. 1. Learning to lead innovation and change Enhancing students’ capacities to lead collaborative learning and innovation through systems thinking, design practice and responsive action Faculty of Education and Social Work, CoCo Research Centre, 2015 Masters of the Learning Sciences and Technology program
  2. 2. What is your view of the world? ‘Am I apart from the universe?’ Meaning whenever I look, I’m looking as if through a peephole upon an unfolding universe; or, ‘Am I part of the universe?’ Meaning whenever I act, I’m changing myself and the universe as well. von Foerster, 2003 2von Foerster, H. (2003). Understanding understanding: essays on cybernetics and cognition. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  3. 3. What is a second-order systems view? Whenever I reflect on these two alternatives, I’m surprised by the depth of the abyss that separates the two fundamentally different worlds that can be created by such a choice. That is to see myself as a citizen of an independent universe, whose regulations, rules and customs I may eventually discover; or to see myself as a participant in a conspiracy, whose customs, rules, and regulations we are now inventing. von Foerster, 2003 3von Foerster, H. (2003). Understanding understanding: essays on cybernetics and cognition. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  4. 4. Developing the capacity to lead change... Three modes of inquiry Systems thinking Design practice Responsive action ...through collective learning and innovation
  5. 5. Students leading learning and innovation projects Key course components Using ideas and methods to inform knowledgeable action and create principled-practical knowledge products Making ideas actionable by grounding them in past experiences Understanding and improving individual and group learning Joint innovation Analysis and design Teamwork Ideas and methods Weekly readings Online discussions Analytical reflection ...of teamwork ...of past experiences
  6. 6. I. Learning to inquire into change in complex social systems What characterises second-order pedagogy? 6 The dynamic relationship between learning and doing II. Learning to organise teamwork Students as creators of their own learning and environments Students as learners and innovators
  7. 7. Pedagogical principle I I. Seeing everyday and professional experiences trough theory II.Constructing principled-practical knowledge products Making knowledge actionable and action knowledgeable “I am really enjoying this course - you are making me think and reflect upon a lot of past learning situations in the organisations I have worked for.” (MLS&T Student, 2015) Students create Guides for Change and Innovation Managers iPad Journey (MLS&T, 2011)
  8. 8. Pedagogical principle II Modern knowledge work is characterised by joint work creating material and digital knowledge objects or “epistemic artefacts”: › models, › blueprints, › prototypes, › principles, › etc Learning and innovation through creating epistemic artefacts
  9. 9. Individual learning: Domain of personal change Skills and capabilities Attitudes and beliefs Awareness and sensibilities Pedagogical principle III Image based on: Senge, P. et al. (2000). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York: Doubleday. Linking organisational, team and individual learning Organisational learning: Domain of action Guiding ideas Infrastructures and environments Methods and tools Integrating perspectives of the learning sciences and organisational sciences
  10. 10. Pedagogical principle IV 1. Face-to-face meetings 2. Synchronous web conferencing 3. Online collaborative writing 4. Knowledge mapping and idea generation 5. Online project management 6. Asynchronous discussions 7. Shared document management 8. Etc Learning to assemble productive learning and innovation environments Students learn to manage distributed teamwork by learning to choose and use appropriate methods and tools
  11. 11. Second-order principles in action… Discussion: Choose an innovation challenge Initial teamwork: Explore the problem space Design workshop: Analyse the situation and model change Online teamwork: Develop the Change and Innovation Guide Presentation: Final product and peer feedback Reflection: Teamwork and process 1 2 3 4 5 6 Innovation using a “soft systems” approach
  12. 12. Second-order principles driving change… › Multiple perspectives of real world complex challenges › Intercultural and multi-professional experiences › User-oriented design products › Students’ agency: teachers and students as co-designers 12 Authentic innovation and teamwork experiences “During this challenge I personally experienced frustration, panic and joy. I found my collaborators to be highly innovative both subjectively and objectively. They are worthy adversaries! I say adversaries because a culture of blind agreement (in my opinion) would not stimulate innovation.” (MLS&T, 2013) “I think our group is motivated by the potential relevance of our guide” (MLS&T, 2015) “I think I'm more focussing on being a good group member at the moment. I'm enjoying trying to focus on that process” (MLS&T, 2015) “it's invigorating working with people from diverse backgrounds and interests in education, multiple perspectives and expertise on the discussion and solution” (MLS&T, 2015) “Learning how to collaborate is the most interesting part of it” (MLS&T, 2015) “We can explore and have ideas without pressure” (MLS&T, 2015)
  13. 13. Learning analytics for deep learning What the students did The types of challenges the students chose to address Ipad journey: Introducing iPads in a Secondary School Overcoming isolation in online learning Learning on-the-go: Mobile learning in higher education E-type guide: Moving from print to online in higher education Redesigning learning spaces: Learning through making Developing students’ creative potential Google brain: Utilising power of digital knowledge tools for learning Creating an engaging school
  14. 14. What the students said › Novelty of pedagogical approach › Motivation and engagement › Teamwork experience › Autonomy and agency › Relevancy of theoretical knowledge › Assessment of “soft” skills 14 Students value... “Really enjoyed the group work challenge, the assessment piece was appropriate and the reflection was a good way to consolidate the learning.” (MLS&T, 2013) “I learnt far more doing the teamwork than I'd expected to. There was a great exchange of ideas and knowledge. Overall, a different but very rewarding course for me.” (MLS&T, 2013) “[The best aspect of the course is] the innovative ways that the course is designed to encourage, or actually demand, autonomous learning.” (MLS&T, 2013) “This unit was a challenge for me, a completely new and different way to learn, but very effective!!” (MLS&T, 2013) 100% › General course evaluation results have been very high: 100% agreement for 9 items out of 12 › All students agreed or strongly agreed that “Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study” (2013 evaluation)
  15. 15. Main sources of inspiration › Blackmore, C., & Ison, R. (2012). Designing and developing learning systems for managing systemic change in a climate change world. In A. E. J. Wals & P. B. Corcoran (Eds.), Learning for sustainability in times of accelerating change (pp. 347- 364). Wageningen, NL: Wageningen Academic Publisher. › Bereiter, C. (2013). Principled practical knowledge: Not a bridge but a ladder. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 23(1), 4-17. › Checkland, P., & Poulter, J. (2006). Learning for action: a short definitive account of soft systems methodology and its use for practitioner, teachers, and students. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. › Checkland, P., & Scholes, J. (1999). Soft systems methodology: a 30-year retrospective. Soft systems methodology in action (New ed.). New York: Wiley. › Ison, R., Blackmore, C., Collins, K., & Furniss, P. ( 2007). Systemic environmental decision making: designing learning systems. Kybernetes, 36(9/10), 1340-1361. › Goodyear, P. (2015) Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2, 27-50 › Li, M. (2002). Fostering design culture through cultivating the user-designers' design thinking and systems thinking. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 15(5), 385-410. › Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1992). The tree of knowledge: the biological roots of human understanding (Revised ed.). Boston, MA: Shambhala. › Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: intentional change in an unpredictable world. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. › Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2014). Knowledge building and knowledge creation: theory, pedagogy and technology. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd ed., pp. 397-417). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. › Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization (Revised ed.). Milsons Point, NSW: Random House Business Books. › von Foerster, H. (2003). Understanding understanding: essays on cybernetics and cognition. New York: Springer-Verlag › Markauskaite, L., & Goodyear, P. (in press). Epistemic fluency and professional education: innovation, knowledgeable action and actionable knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer.
  16. 16. Contacting us Course title: Systems, Change and Learning Course coordinator: Dr Lina Markauskaite E-mail: Contributors: Professor Peter Reimann Professor Peter Goodyear Participating students Acknowledgements: Illustrations from students’ projects 2010-15