by Tom Bentley, Demos, Matthew Horne, Demos & NCSL
Incubating ‘Real Time Learning’: The role and nature of Real Time Learning in Networked Learning Communities
This paper outlines the concept and emerging practice of ‘real time learning’ within the Networked Learning Communities Programme. Networked Learning Communities (NLC) is a large-scale, publicly funded, practitioner led, ‘development and research project’.
Real time learning aims to be a knowledge generating and knowledge sharing set of processes and relationships which can help to meet the context-specific needs of practitioners working in school to school networks and the wider needs of a larger scale national programme aiming to improve attainment outcomes, meet some of the objectives of an ambitious national reform programme, and help to provide policy-makers with lessons about what constitutes effective, capacity-building intervention. The conceptual framework has been built on a synthesis of the principles of collaborative practitioner enquiry, action research and emergent forms of ‘knowledge management’. It is not designed to meet the conventional requirements of large scale academic research, but to be complementary to, and to draw on, the forms of knowledge which such research generates.
As such, it may present a challenge to established conventions of academic ‘rigour’ in relation to the generation and use of knowledge about what forms of pedagogical strategy and organisation are valuable in seeking to improve student attainment outcomes. Clarifying this challenge is important, because it establishes a set of shared understandings between the practitioner community (represented by NLCs) and the researcher community, the value of which should be self-evident to all. The strategy is ambitious, and we are in the early stages of developing and implementing it. The most contested issue remains how knowledge generated through ‘real time learning’ could be used to inform policy making in a dynamic and fast-moving decision-making environment.
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