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Connected Intelligence: Training and Development

Connected Intelligence Training and Development (CITD) is a network learning environment that provides an integrated and adaptive system for collaboration, knowledge creation, and product development. In Madeira, and throughout the context of this discussion, CITD is specifically aimed at providing opportunities for growth and innovation in the education system. At the heart of CITD are Connected Intelligence Network Learning Projects...

Learning has become a critical resource and essential competency in both the public and private sectors. Public and private education as well as corporations around the globe are often (sometimes needlessly) overwhelmed by change. The focus of this discussion of CITD is specifically on the question, "How can we transform an entire system of education to provide leadership in the new reality of a networked society?" Education systems, in our opinion, are not commonly associated with innovation. While creative attempts have been made, these attempts are often aimed at the surface features of education while avoiding the underlying structure of curriculum, instruction and assessment. CITD is directly aimed at transforming curriculum, instruction and assessment in systemic, sustainable and practical ways.

CITD: A Core Strategy for Professional Development

The white paper on education and training entitled Teaching and Learning: Towards a Learning Society the European Union identified the main objective of education in the Information Age as being, "To help, through the Member States' education and training policies, put Europe on the road to the learning society, based on the acquisition of new knowledge and involving teaching and lifelong learning." The three key “factors of upheaval” in European Society are:

  1. the impact of the information society, the main effect of which is to transform the nature of work and the organisation of production, thereby making it necessary for everybody to adapt not only to new technical tools but also to changes in working conditions;
  2. the impact of internationalisation, which is causing upheavals in job creation and erasing the boundaries between labour markets. The maintenance of the European social model presupposes a general increase in skill and qualification levels; and
  3. the impact of the scientific and technological world which, despite its generally beneficial effect, is giving rise to a feeling of threat and irrational fears in society.
Important Caveats: The connection between the changing nature of society and public education is clear and present. Education institutions may need to prepare students for an "Information Society," a world dramatically different in comparison with when most of our current teachers and administrators were in school. One important part of the solution lies in the need to redesign professional development. Connected Intelligence does not recognize new systems of professional development as a total solution since development new skills and capabilities in educators only to place them back into the same system they came from is counter-productive and sometimes frustrating. In addition, the need to focus on notions about the Learning in the Information Society may be one important source of motivation, but the idea is not comprehensive enough in its scope to provide a comprehensive foundation for re-designing education. That being said, the role of professional development in change and innovation is mission critical.

Education systems around the world recognize the essential connection between school improvement and teacher professional development. David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment in the UK has clearly articulated the need for improved systems of professional development for teachers in Building on Success:

5.26 The working environment is changing at an unprecedented rate. Like every other profession, teaching must keep pace if we are to prepare children for a rapidly changing labour market. For teachers, as much as for their pupils, the issue is one of lifelong learning: the need to continuously build and update skills.

5.31 Alongside these new programmes, we will spread across the school system the excellent practice in a number of schools of placing professional development at the heart of their approach to school improvement. Successful schools are always outward facing and committed to sharing best practice and seeking innovative thinking wherever they can find it. This vital process of networking and sharing knowledge is at the heart of teachers' professionalism because it involves both learning from what works and contributing to the pool of professional knowledge. We will continue to emphasise the value that can come from teachers learning from each other - through observing lessons, feedback, coaching and mentoring - which many teachers find the most effective way to improve their practice.

Blunkett identifies the need for teachers to continuously build and update skills. He indicates that the most successful schools are those that are outward facing and committed to sharing best practice and seek innovative thinking. Most importantly, he identifies networking and sharing knowledge as being a core capacity for teachers. However, without redesigning the fundamental underpinnings of an education system (curriculum, instruction and evaluation), the impact of these new skills would be limited.

We believe that a revolution, not an evolution, of professional development is required. The implications for building a revolutionary system of professional development are:

  • Seamless Integration of Professional Development: If teachers must "continuously build and update skills," then the professional development solution must be seamlessly integrated with the teachers’ everyday working environment. External training events can be meaningfully incorporated, but cannot meaningfully support a sustainable and continuous system of professional development.
  • Professional Development = Network Learning Environnment: If schools are to be "outward facing and committed to sharing best practices and seek innovative thinking," then the professional development solution must originate in a networked learning environment.
  • CI Network Learning Projects are the Solution: If "networking and sharing knowledge are vital to teachers," then students, teachers, schools, adminnistrators, communities, businesses, corporations and governments at the regional, national and international levels must be connected through project-driven professional development networks.

In CITD, teacher professional development is integrated with the need for other systemic changes. It is obvious to say that the current prescribed curricular structures, instructional methods, timetables and systems of evaluation often force the teacher to be accountable to practices that do not support, and in many cases hinder, growth and innovation. The teacher is in a sense constantly pulled between professional accountability to the current curriculum and the pressure to be both responsible and creative in the face on change and innovation. This approach to professional development is a losing proposition.

Governments via Ministries of Education must elevate the teacher's working environment. New applications of technology (for example, e-Learning) can always be used to improve (and sometimes deter) the delivery of the existing curricula, but true innovation in education requires a new organizational structure, and more importantly a learning environment that is not limited by antiquated ideas about curriculum, instruction and evaluation. Teachers and students need freedom to explore and develop their craft in an intentional and accountable manner beyond the prescribed curricular boundaries. Educational organizations, unlike the demands placed on corporations, are not required to react quickly since their very survival is not immediately dependent upon changes in the marketplace. At the same time, the only path to sustainable, durable and scalable innovation and growth in a society lies within the education system.

In summary:

  • Economic need and notions of future societies are critical, but not comprehensive, factors in educational innovation.
  • Updating teacher professional development is part of a solution to a much larger need.
  • Teacher professional development should be unified (not uniform) across an entire school system.
  • Teacher professional development should be systemically structured and focused on key directions that are regional, national and international in scope.
  • Teacher professional development should be project driven and occur on the job as much as possible.
  • Teacher professional development should be ubiquitously supported through intranet communications in every classroom.

CITD integrates a networked system of professional development that is distinctly aimed at the creation of intentional and focused learning environments in which teachers (and students) explore and develop their craft without being held captive by prescribed curricula. But the question remains, "How can we evolve our traditional curriculum, instruction and evaluation practices so that innovation and growth are possible?" The answer to this question lies in the pervasive nature of the Connected Intelligence Network Learning Project.

Connected Intelligence Network Learning Projects

A CI Network Learning Project (CI NLP) is a highly interactive and dynamic learning environment in which teachers and students from across the school system coordinate their efforts around a shared purpose through the leadership of the CITD Trainers. In one sense, these projects are designed new facilitate new connections and linkages between schools, teachers and students through communications technology. All projects place a major emphasis on effective communications, both human and virtual. In another sense, these projects are distributed production environments for the creation of digital content. A variety of products will be created (e.g. – a theatre production, a fashion show, urban renewal initiatives, etc.) but all projects share the common bond of website production.

Implementation Note: The use of the word "projects" is only a reference to their initial status in the education system, that is, a "friendly and non-threatening" point of introduction. We believe in finding a critical point of leverage to introduce the CI NLP system. At the same time, design, strategies and practices embraced in CI NLP are far superior to traditional curriculum and instruction.

The organization of teachers and students in a CI NLP is intentionally designed to bring a wide variety of perspectives, approaches and thinking styles to a shared goal. To accomplish this, new linkages and partnerships are required. Typically the range of participants in a single project will consist of some combination of the following:

  1. A cross-section of schools from various regions of the school system. CI NLPs are designed to connect schools together in the pursuit of shared goals. In this way, school improvement and best practices can be shared and distributed more effectively.
  2. A cross-section of teachers from different subject disciplines. CI NLPs are typically multi-disciplinary in focus and form an ideal context for bringing together teachers with different subject expertise. The benefit for teachers is a broadened perspective on teaching by networking with colleagues from a variety of areas in an intentional and focused manner.
  3. A cross-section of students of different ages and grade levels. CI NLPs encourage students of different ages working toward a common objective. This expands the collaborative and social element for students and increases their own educational opportunities.
  4. Participation from the parents of the school community. CI NLPs offer an invitational environment to parents interested in supporting their students. A parent may offer specific skills or services to a CI NLP and become a member of that project.
  5. Participation from community or business. CI NLPs leverage connections to community organizations and businesses in support of a project topic or objective. The kind of support sought after is participatory in nature.
  6. Participation from national and international levels. CI NLPs have a three-part distribution strategy – regional, national and international. Internet communications are the focus for the creation of communities of practice within a CI NLP.

We believe that the social and economic benefits reaped by a society for the foreseeable future will be due in large part to designing and implementing the power of human and virtual networks of learning. The word "network" four fundamental sources of design: a) distributed; b) decentralized; c) collaborative; and d) adaptive. A Connected Intelligence Network (CIN) a unified learning strategy, design and infrastructure for building communities of human relationships (social, economic, education, artistic, etc.) as well as communications through the Internet and other collaborative technologies. Since the requirements and needs of the corporate sector are different from the education sector, the term Connected Intelligence Network Learning Projects (CI NLPs) has been created to identify networks of learning that are customized and specific to the needs and requirements of professional development in the education sector.

Connected Intelligence Training and Development (CITD) is an organizational design and pedagogical approach for leveraging the power of Connected Intelligence Networks (CINs) in the school system. The practical realization of CINs in education is called the Connected Intelligence Network Learning Project (CI NLP) . In other words, the CI NLP is the engine of CITD that drives a systemic and integrated program of professional development and digital content development.

The main purpose of CITD then is to design, plan, implement and assess CI NLPs that enhance and accelerate the most critical aims of learning including discovery, creativity, critical thinking, and knowledge building. All of the participants in the projects - teachers, students, parents, community groups, businesses and government agencies alike, are viewed as learners in a constant search for new thoughts, ideas and experiences. In order to fully appreciate the rationale for CI NLPs, we will investigate the foundation of networks in learning. There are three core concepts that combine to form the basis for CI NLPs: 1) Lifelong Learning; 2) Network Learning; and 3) Community.

CI NLP = Lifelong Learning + Network Learning Environments + Community

The design, implementation, practice and assessment of CI NLPs are based in the world of innovation, invention and creativity. It is an idea that looks forward by asking the question: “What can learning be given the emergence of new social and technological realities?” In a CI NLP we find educational pioneers who take risks, not to criticize the past, but to invent the future.

Lifelong learning is an important theoretical foundation in the design and delivery of CITD. This concept, while early in its development, has the attention of both the education and corporate sectors. Like any emerging concept, it has a variety of definitions and descriptions associated with it. Offering a definition of lifelong learning is clearly a difficult task given that the concept is both broad and deep in conception. Norman Longworth in Making Lifelong Learning Work astutely offers the following description:

In the first place it has to be ‘lifelong’ – from cradle to grave, from maternity to eternity, from hatch to dispatch, 0-90 (and why stop there?). Secondly, it has to be ‘learning’ – not teaching, not course provision, not training, but out and out focus on the needs of the learner, however strange they may be. Thirdly, it has to marry all of this into a seamless infrastructure that makes available all the resources of the community, including the human resources, for the development of the full potential of all the human beings (and why not other species?) in that community.

Any definitions and initiatives falling short of Longworth's description are an inadequate foundation to build learning environments. The three qualities (literally learning ‘lifelong’ + ‘learning’ not teaching, training or courses + a seamless infrastructure) are all qualities that CITD is designed to embrace. CI NLP's are inherently lifelong. Simply stated, a lifelong learning environment must be durable, sustainable, flexible, adaptable, and scalable. Longworth does not explore the potential of networks in learning, but his vision of lifelong learning clearly embraces them:

  • Teachers will develop and teach collaboratively common curricula between schools in the community and internationally. Children will learn collaboratively from other children from other cultures, regions, countries.
  • Students will access databases and stimulate people to enliven and enhance their learning.
  • In environmental studies, for example, children and teachers will participate in joint project work with community organizations and industry.
  • Schools will build their own geographical, historical and biological databases and share them with others.
  • Language teaching will be given a new dimension through interpersonal contacts.

But the basic question remains, "How can networks be used to support a broad conception of lifelong learning?" And in referring back to the earlier discussion of professional development we might also ask, "What would a system of professional development designed to support both the vision of an Information Society as well as lifelong learning look like?"

Longworth embeds his vision of lifelong learning in a project-based environment called learning cities. The learning city is the practical and observable representation of the principles of lifelong learning. Longworth’s correct use of the word city is used to define his learning network as one that is geographically bounded by a city infrastructure. It has a physical identity and boundary, as well as a virtual domain. This is a very useful and important direction in the development of lifelong learning. We have chosen to replace the idea of city with the idea of networks.

A CI NLP is focused on the idea of a learning community (on and offline) - or a group of people that share common learning interests and goals that may be widely distributed geographically, but closely linked electronically (i.e. – the Internet). So a CI NLP is a kind of specialized learning network designed specifically for the global education community. The principles of learning cities and learning communities are nearly synonymous. The following is a summary of Longworth's key principles of learning cities. We embrace these principles but embrace the idea of "community" instead:

  1. A learning community links its strategy to the development of leadership and learning counseling skills in and for the whole community.
  2. A learning community effects plans to define and develop the skills and competencies that make all of its citizens employable.
  3. A learning community activates the creative potential of its citizens through a strategy for encouraging the use of personal lesson plans, mentors and guides in citizens of all ages.
  4. A learning community releases the full potential of community resources, including human resources, by enabling mutually beneficial partnerships between public and private sectors.
  5. A learning community nourishes tolerance and outward-looking mindsets through innovative projects to link citizens of all races, ages and creeds locally, nationally and internationally.
  6. A learning community increases participation in learning by devising strategies to provide information where people gather, and proactive publicity campaigns to promote learning.
  7. A learning community nurtures a culture of learning by proactively auditing the learning requirements of all its citizens and providing opportunities to satisfy them.
  8. A learning community generates wealth and employment through innovative use of existing resources and through creative projects with other learning communities.
  9. A learning community cultivates programmes that allow citizens to cope positively and without fear in a world of rapid change.
  10. A learning community influences the future by linking learning strategies to cross-departmental financial and other strategies.
  11. A learning community transforms the education system into a modern center of learning by the effective use of new learning technologies.
  12. A learning community inspires its teachers and students to contribute to society and culture by building a database of their skills, knowledge and talents and encouraging them to make them available to others.
  13. A learning community energizes programs that enable all citizens to take positive action to care for the environment.
  14. A learning community stimulates the society and whole families to learn by running festivals and other events that promote the habit of learning.

The idea of community is an indispensable idea in articulating practical and relevant approaches to citizenship, sustainable international development and democracy. Communities are the means and ends to social change and there is no greater challenge in the modern world than to find the ways to enable the underlying interdependence of all communities to be acknowledged, understood and acted upon in ways which enable people to live together in harmony.

The CITD Learning Framework

In Learning in the Information Society: An Action Plan for a European Education Initiative three basic aims are presented :
  1. To accelerate schools' entry into the information society by giving them new means of access to the world;

  2. To reinforce the European dimension of education and training with the tools of the information society whilst enhancing cultural and linguistic diversity.

CITD integrates these aims, and others like them, by promoting trends in learning that facilitate change. Embodied in all CI NLPs are strategies to promote:

  • the school system as a lifelong active participant in and innovator of cultural and economic development;
  • the school as a communications hub for global interactivity and participation;
  • the curriculum as a lifelong knowledge creation environment;
  • the teacher as an expert collaborator and communicator focused on the mentorship of individual and collective expertise;
  • the student as an active creator and contributor of knowledge and experience;
  • a flexible and adaptive use of time that is responsive to immediate needs;
  • varied and diverse age groups collaborating on real world issues and problems; and
  • an integrated and inter-disciplinary body of expertise focused on shared goals.
  • a dynamic system of content develop that evolves and changes over time.

CI NLPs are based on the principle that all learning requires dialogue, interaction and sharing. In Lifeworlds and Learning: Essays in the Theory, Philosophy and Practice of Lifelong Learning Bill Williamson states a critical perspective:

Learning is a psychological process which takes place in particular settings of social interaction. Lave and Wenger (1991) have made this point in their notion of ‘situated learning’. Learning cannot be separated off from the social and ideological conditions in which it takes place. Some contexts facilitate it, others inhibit it. Some contexts of learning are formal; others informal. All contexts of learning involve the interpersonal transmission of ideas, skills and understanding.

Williamson then goes on to describe the ideal conditions in which learning can occur:

  • People can participate in the learning process by setting its goals and methods.
  • People feel secure that they are valued and being taken seriously.
  • People are confident that they can ask questions and challenge the views of others without fear of humiliation or reprisal.
  • People are given support to articulate their questions and challenge the views of others.
  • People are helped by the circumstances of their learning to be open to others.
  • People are helped to understand their failures in learning so that their ‘meta-cognitive’ aware improves.
  • People are helped to become aware of the ways in which others build up their understanding of the world and communicate their thoughts and try to justify their claims to knowledge.
  • People can see the immediate consequences of their learning.
  • People experience the joy of personal growth and a deeper understanding of what interests them.
  • People experience themselves as agents, as being able to determine their own fate and to be able to act to influence the decisions that shape their lives.

We suggest that a better word to use is "environment" rather than "context." We have also used the word "framework" instead of "curriculum" - while this is a play on words, we wanted to avoid the association of the CITD Learning Framework to the use of the word "curriculum" in education. Curriculum has a close association to competency-based education in Europe:

Competency-based education (CBE) is virtually the paradigm case of an overly reductionist approach to program planning, curriculum design and classroom organization. … While it is important to know about their use, it is important to recognize the extent to which conventional approaches to programme design emerge from a straight line functionalist perspective that evades more creative impulses and political strategies required for a more radical transformation of our education system. Williamson, Bill.
While competencies are addressed in any CI NLP, the CITD Learning Framework is focused on the design for thinking, creating, building communities, conducting projects and creating new knowledge. In this sense, it is more of a meta-curriculum, or a tool that can be used to rapidly prototype and evolve curricula. In other words, CITD is designed to adapt and evolve to a diversity of curricular approaches in learning. In putting the two terms together (i.e. – learning and framework) we have defined a new foundation for thinking about the design of educational experience. The psychological and social conditions for optimizing learning across networks can be designed.
CITD Learning Framework = Knowledge Innovation + Network Environments
  1. Blunkett, David. Green Paper on Education and Employment. UK: Department of Education and Employment. The entire report can be viewed at Building On Success.
  2. European Union. Learning in the Information Society: An Action Plan for a European Education Initiative.
  3. Longworth, Norman. Making Lifelong Learning Work. UK: Kogan Page Limited, 1999.
  4. Teaching and Learning: Towards a Learning Society. European Union, ©1995-2000.
  5. Williamson, Bill. Lifeworlds and Learning: Essays in the Theory, Philosophy and Practice of Lifelong Learning UK: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 1998.

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