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Mahara and Collaboration: Building communities of practice.

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Presentation at Mahara Hui 2017 by Sue Smarti and Gwen Davitt (Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand) in Auckland, New Zealand, on 7 April 2017.

YouTube presentation link can be found here:

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Mahara and Collaboration: Building communities of practice.

  1. 1. Mahara and Collaboration: Building communities of practice. Sue Smorti and Gwen Davitt Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  2. 2. Community of Practice: Community of Learners Carr (2004, p.19), suggests that participation in a learning community involves: • Developing theories • Solving problems • Finding out • Expressing ideas and thoughts so that others can contemplate them too • Caring for others • Getting community work done. Carr, M. (2004). Assessment in early childhood education. Wellington: Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association.
  3. 3. Context: Leading pedagogical change Postgraduate Diploma of Leadership (ECE) • Developing an identity as a pedagogical leader • Leading curriculum change within a community of learners (CoL) • Gaining pedagogical learning and knowledge • Gaining technological skills – utilising Mahara as a collaborative, learning and teaching tool • Building critical knowledge and understanding of theory through teaching others/dissemination • Working collaboratively as a CoL
  4. 4. Group Task Students were asked to: 1. Develop a poster on a page in Mahara collectively; 2. Present the poster to a group of ECE leaders outside of the course; and 3. Reflect on the process of working as a group. The process also included creating a page of supporting documentation that showed evidence of the group process (group agreements, task allocation, conflict resolution procedure, minutes of meetings and key communication).
  5. 5. Mahara Tools • Forums • Group membership – lecturer assigned to each group • Comments • Collection for copying • Templates • File Sharing • Freedom to add/delete pages
  6. 6. Additional IT support • Downloaded templates at block course • Face-to-Face... Lecturers assisted individual groups at block course – editing, deletion of pages • Adobe connect video conferencing • Visual guides • Learning from each other - sharing IT skills
  7. 7. Setting up collaborative groups: Group process (speed dating) To: • Gain a deeper understanding of content • Opportunties to develop and/or strengthen interpersonal skills • Supportive process working together for a shared outcome • Acknowledging collaboration of skills and knowledge • Learning to be an active group member • Theoretically sound • Conceptually/visually strong • IT savvy
  8. 8. Example of documenting our Community of Practice – BCC group
  9. 9. Example of documenting our Community of Practice – BCC group (cont)
  10. 10. Example of documenting our Community of Practice – BCC group (cont)
  11. 11. Example of documenting our Community of Practice – C.O.P. group
  12. 12. C O M M U N I T I E S O F P R A C T I C E “Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger & Wenger-Trayner, 2015, p. 1). Community A mutual engagement HOW COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICES SUCCEED o Strong foundations are formed o Shared and ongoing learning o Commitment and participation o Members are able to work through conflict for better outcomes GROUP MEMBERSHIP o Core members o Peripheral members o Distributed leadership from within o Fosters pedagogical change BOUNDARIES o Define your community of practice. o Boundaries overlap to allow for shared learning over multiple communities. KEY ELEMENTS CHALLENGES o Group size o Consistency of core members o Conflict in interests/practice o Maintaining fluidness Practice A shared repertoire Domain A joint enterprise
  13. 13. References: Buysee, V., Sparkman, K., & Wesley, P. (2003). Communities of practice: Connecting what we know with what we do. Council for exceptional children, 69(3), 263-277. Carter, M. (2009). Communities of practice for professional development Exchange Magazine, Nov/Dec. Retrieved from Clarkin-Phillips, J. (2011). Distributed leadership: Growing strong communities of practice in early childhood centres. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 26(2), 14-25. Guldberg, K., & Macknesst, J. (2009) Foundations of communities of practice: Enablers and barriers to participation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 528-538 Jho, H., Hong, O., & Song, J. (2016). An analysis of STEM/STEAM teacher education in Korea with a case study of two schools from a community of practice perspective. Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Tech. Ed, 12(7), 1843-1862. Priest, K., King, S., Nangala, I., Brown, W. N., & Nangala, M. (2008). Warrki Jarrinjaku 'working together everyone and listening': Growing together as leaders for Aboriginal children in remote central Australia. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 16(1), 117-130. Retrieved from doi:10.1080/13502930801897186 Seaman, M. (2008). Birds of a feather? Communities of practice and knowledge communities. Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 10(1/2), 269-279. Smith, M. K. (n.d.). Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice. Retrieved from Thornton, K. (2010). The nature of distributed leadership and its development in online environments. In Leadership in the digital enterprise: Issues and challenges (pp. 1-14). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Waniganayake, M., Cheeseman, S., Fenech, M., Hadley, F., & Shepherd, W. (2012). Leadership: Contexts and complexities in early childhood education. Victoria, Australia: Oxford University Press. Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Retrieved from Wenger, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Communities of practice a brief introduction. Retrieved October 23, 2016, from
  14. 14. • All cultures need to be equally valued and respected (Priest et al., 2008) • A distributed leadership model crosses both social and cultural boundaries (Priest et al., 2008) • Cultural identity is valued when leadership, power and responsibility are shared amongst communities, families, children and staff (Priest et al., 2008; Singh, Han & Woodrow, 2012) Utilization of strengths Being inclusive and culturally respectful • Not delegation, should be shared amongst individuals and not the role of a single person (Menon, 2013) • Many leadership roles within the organization working simultaneously (Heikka & Hujala, 2013) • Multiple people to take on leadership responsibilities (Heikka & Hujala, 2013) • Distributed leadership operates effectively in a setting where there is a climate of collaboration within the team (McGuinness, 2009) • Everybody’s input is valued and respected in working towards a shared vision • Multiple leaders working collaboratively who share the leadership roles within the organisation (Harris & Spillane, 2008) • Distributed leadership creates opportunities for individuals to grow their capacity and feel empowered (Scrivens et al., 2006) • Encouraging educators to be involved in decision making will empower them to take on leadership roles within the organisation (O’Gorman & Hard, 2013) • Fostering a trusting environment where every individuals’ input is valued and respected is crucial when working in a distributed leadership model (Heikka & Hujala, 2013) • A positional leader needs to trust the ability of the individual team members to successfully execute their leadership role within a distributed leadership model (Van Schaijik, 2015) • Professional learning sessions provide an avenue for educators to work collaboratively to increase and enhance their content knowledge (O’Gorman & Hard, 2013) • Through professional development, educators gain a greater understanding of innovative educational practices and this provides an avenue for working within a distributive leadership model (Singh, Han & Woodrow, 2012) Hands Up for Distributed leadership –Not delegation Informal and formal leadership opportunities Shared leadership & interdependence of stakeholders Those with content knowledge Respect & Trust Implementation of change Teams working collaboratively Distributed leaders Empowerment References & Presentation notes Hands Up for Distributed Leadership, Ballantyne, B., Doran, C., Kibby, C. | November 2016 • All stakeholders need to have a shared understanding of distributed leadership and a clear definition of their particular roles and responsibilities within the model (Heikka & Hujala, 2013) • In early childhood settings in Australia, interdependence between educators, management, children and families is vital for successful delivery of quality educational programs (Heikka & Hujala, 2013) • Leadership is not the responsibility of the Manager who is considered the positional leader, but rather leadership is disseminated amongst several educators who hold both formal and informal roles within the organisation (Spillane, 2005) LEADERSHIP TD E D R II T UBS D T D E T UB I RS I • A distributed leadership model is a vehicle for service development and is conducive to providing opportunities for everyone in the centre to share some responsibility for leading change through the decisions that they make in everyday practice (Fasoli, Scrivens & Woodrow, 2007) D T D E T UB I RS I • Using a strength based approach where leadership roles and responsibilities are matched with the expertise of individuals, optimises the potential for successful outcomes (Clarkin-Phillips, 2011) • Have confidence in their ability and the ability of their team • Have effective communication skills • Are self-reflective practitioners • Are ongoing learners • Have a strong commitment to professional learning • Have ability to identify talents and empower others to develop their leadership • Develop collaborative relationships that builds capacity within strong teams • Have the willingness to develop and grow others • Have the ability to negotiate towards mutual agreement • Are willing to relinquish some power (Van Schaijik, 2015)
  15. 15. Mahara enabling collaborative group work • Established group pages • Established groups • Group contract – clear process and guidelines, what to do if things go wrong... • Enacted collaborative group process
  16. 16. Advantages of working collaboratively on a group assignment include: • Sharing of knowledge and skills • Gaining deeper levels of understanding about the content and associated ideas • Insights into contextual relevance of the content • Opportunities to strengthen and/or develop interpersonal skills • Receiving support when working together on the same project/outcome O’Sullivan, T. (All of the School of Arts and Humanities, De Montfort University, Leicester), Rice, J., Saunders, C. (2013). Successful group work: A practical guide for students in further and higher education. London, England: Taylor and Francis. 972&
  17. 17. Advantages of working collaboratively on a group assignment include: Key strategies discussed are: • getting established; • anticipating problems; • getting off to a good start; • managing your time; • allocating tasks; and • choreographing your actions (p. 87) O’Sullivan, T. (All of the School of Arts and Humanities, De Montfort University, Leicester), Rice, J., Saunders, C. (2013). Successful group work: A practical guide for students in further and higher education. London, England: Taylor and Francis. &tstamp=1473395972&
  18. 18. A learning community is a “place of engagement” (Wenger, 1998, p. 271).
  19. 19. Ability to be a team player… According to the Victoria University Business School almost all jobs require interaction with others, the ability to work in a team, and the ability to achieve a result. The ability to be a team player is consistently one of the top ten graduate attributes employers want. Doing well in group projects at university could help you get the job you want! (Victoria Business School, n.d, para.1) Retrieved from:
  20. 20. Victoria University Business School Group Work Resources - instructions for students The Group Work Student Handbook is a very valuable resource as it discusses strategies for successfully working in groups and provides a range of practical ideas and resources to support this process in action for assignment two. Check it out at: k-Student-Handbook.pdf Remember this is a resource specific to Victoria University Business School which you can adapt to your requirements.
  21. 21. Reflection on working as a group in Mahara Consider past and current experiences of working in teams/groups and the learning you have gained. Reflect on: • What strategies and/or processes enabled effective group work? • What challenges have you encountered and how were these successfully overcome? • What strengths will you contribute to your group? • What aspects of your group participation do you want to develop?
  22. 22. A range of tools used to support students Working in a group: Tips and Strategies for Success Here are some YouTube clips to view to support your thinking in preparation for this collaborative group assignment Effectively Working in a Group Group Project Nightmare Team Work 41537&feature=iv&src_vid=o9mdHMtxOjY&v=OpzH1hPvf38
  23. 23. Acknowledgements Our thanks go to the following students for giving us premission to use their ePortfolio work Brownyn Ballantyne Carol Doran Christine Kibby Leonie Hede Kristy O’Toole Karen Cornwall
  24. 24. References: Carr, M. (2004). Assessment in early childhood education. Wellington: Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association. O’Sullivan, T. (All of the School of Arts and Humanities, De Montfort University, Leicester), Rice, J., Saunders, C. (2013). Successful group work: A practical guide for students in further and higher education. London, England: Taylor and Francis. Victoria University Business School. (N.D). Group Work Resources. Retrieved from Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.