Thursday, 28 July 2016

What can bring communities and schools together?

Viewing the goal of learning as community building rather than individual enrichment can change how we view our responsibilities as learners.

Ahmed, our director, and senior researcher at Newcastle University, recently posted a piece on one of his new ventures - 'commissioning in education'. It’s a brilliant read and I wanted to try and break it down to post on our blog, as I think this research could lead to great things for students, teachers and communities...

In many places, there’s a lot of resources available that aren’t being used as much as they could be. Whether social, physical or intellectual resources, some aren’t being used at all. This is despite the great potential that community networks can contribute to improving students’ learning experiences. With commissioning in education, we want to make use of this potential.

Now, of course, there are some great initiatives out there, but these are often on a small scale and require A LOT of effort and coordination on everyone's part. This is where Ahmed’s ambitious goal comes in:

To build a platform that transforms how schools build partnerships in their communities. One that needs little input from both sides and is realistic, sustainable and could be scaled up.

The platform will need to provide the:
  • opportunity for any individual or organisation to express their ‘needs’ in the form of a campaign.
  • tools to help promote such campaigns. (The aim is to collect enough ‘endorsements’ to validate the proposal.)
  • set-up to cement any requirements and possibly add to the preparation or planning of needed resources (depends on the idea).
  • means to create realistic/usable actions for users to choose from (e.g. project proposal, curriculum, learning resource etc.)
The main roles outlined for the platform are:
  • Idea proposers
  • Supporters
  • Contributors
  • Users/beneficiaries
Any person or organisation can play any of these roles, e.g. a local organisation could 'commission' a school to carry out a project with an educational benefit. Students or teachers can then 'commission' members of the community to contribute resources or collect information. What this means then, is that the platform must allow for a two-way relationship between schools and communities.


Who: A local village shop owner

Why: Wants to encourage more people to shop there rather than the big supermarkets.

How: Make the benefits of this clear.

What: They propose an idea (on the platform) with the aim of 'commissioning'/asking students of the village school to start an awareness campaign on this. The idea then gains support from other shop owners, some parents, as well as the local school geography teacher who becomes aware of it.
This leads to the project moving to the ‘design phase’. The shop owners, with the help of the teacher, shape this idea as a project-based learning activity with clear learning goals. They agree on some key points to address, a timescale and some possible outcomes (e.g. flyers and an awareness video).

What one village shop owner started, ends up being a well defined project-based learning activity that takes a number of learning objectives around economy, society, environment, effects, and change; one that other teachers can then implement in their local areas as well.

During carrying out the project, the students then decide to start another activity: they ‘commission’/ask their local community (individuals and the shop owners themselves) to provide some short, mobile-based, video captures, plus some data that they can use to produce their flyers and awareness video.

This is still early stages but if it is something you think sounds interesting, please comment below or email to be added to the ‘interested contacts’ list (he promises no spam!)

No comments:

Post a Comment