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Connected Intelligence: Network Learning Projects

Why use CI NLPs?

The social and economic benefits reaped by a society for the foreseeable future will be due in large part to researching and leveraging the power of decentralized and autonomous networks of learning in education. All aspects of a CI NLP are focused on observable, practical and concrete results in a project-based approach to learning. The following principles provide the rationale and urgent need for CI Network Learning Projects...

  • Networks, both human and virtual, are the most effective means to create the context accelerating innovation and change.
  • Networks transform learning.
  • Knowledge is dynamic, not static.
  • Subject disciplines are no longer a relevant organizational structure for education.
  • Networks facilitate the evolution of new partnerships and alliances among education, business, and government.
  • Expertise is distributed across the expanse of a network, rather than being centred in a physical location.
  • Networks are the basis for the emerging global economy. Education must respond by preparing people for the world in which they will live.
  • Education systems must respond to the impact of networks by innovating new curricular and instructional approaches for learning.
Connected Intelligence principles are built on the interplay of technology, communications and behaviour.
  • Connected Intelligence networks begin with people, not technology.
  • Connected Intelligence networks nurture innovation in environments of ‘increasing returns’ – the value of the network grows exponentially with each additional participant.
  • Connected Intelligence networks are inclusive, accessible to anyone at any level of technological sophistication.
  • Connected Intelligence networks foster knowledge creation and application across disciplines, cultures and geographic space.
Connected Intelligence tools are designed to institute new relationships and associations between people and their activities. New intellectual capital becomes embedded in the act of participation. Connected Intelligence tools:
  • provide a platform for generating knowledge and innovation that is immediately relevant and applicable;
  • promote the transparent integration of thinking and doing;
  • are a platform for building unique intellectual capital across a broad range of cultural, entrepreneurial and learning initiatives;
  • are designed to institute new relationships and associations between people and their activities. The knowledge capital becomes embedded in the act of doing;
  • encompass strategies for effective communication, interaction and life-long learning in social, cultural and economic contexts.
CI NLP's provide a consistent focus on designing and building concrete opportunities in learning. CI NLP's allow for regional and national customization to meet the specific requirements of various European and world markets. A CI Network Learning Project will typically consist of:
  • a selection of school sites
  • a cross-section of teachers from different subject disciplines
  • a cross-section of students of different ages and grade levels
  • participation from the parents of the school community
  • a business alliance or partnership in digital knowledge development
  • a distance education component at the national and international levels

CI NLPs and the European Union's Information Society

In 1995, the European Union’s Green Paper on Innovation identified a significant economic/industrial gap between Europe and her competitors. The development of human resources through education and training as well as EU funding for basic infrastructures is a major focus for action. Education and training are the key vehicles for improvement in the areas of:
  • Unemployment
  • Gender, cultural, and economic equity
  • Intercultural fluency
  • Overall economic performance
The major educational dilemma facing government and industry lies in identifying and developing the skill-sets which best enable local knowledge workers to participate successfully in the global information-based economy. Once these skill sets are identified and curriculum developed the challenge becomes one of cost-effective implementation. All CITD projects include education and training components aligned with the social and economic development goals described by the EU Information Society. These components are filtered according to cultural, geographic, technological and economic circumstances in each project instance.

In 1998, the European Union specified the following directions that CITD-Madeira will be required to address:

  1. Connect Initiative
    • Promotion of European citizenship via civic and democratic education
    • Promoting European projects to bridge the gap between education and society

  2. Education and Active Citizenship
    • Definition and policies for “active citizenship” across the EU

  3. Violence in School
    • Provision of solutions to phenomenon that create an unsafe environment at school
    • Creation of expert groups and information exchanges across the EU
    • Piloting new actions at the school level to decrease violence

  4. Minerva
    • Co-operation in the field of open and distance learning (ODL) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education
    • To ensure that pedagogical concerns are integrated effectively with the use of ODL and ICT
    • To promote access to improved methods and educational resources as well as to results of best practices in this field

  5. Comenius
    • Promote transnational cooperation across the EU between schools
    • Improved professional development of staff
    • Promote the learning of languages
    • Promote the learning of intercultural awareness

  6. Observation and Innovation 2000-2006
    • Further the process of educational innovation in Europe through the exchange of information and experience, the identification of best practice, the comparative analysis of systems and policies

  7. Education and Employment
    • Improvement of employability
    • Development of Entrepreneurship
    • Adaptability of business and employees

  8. Youth Program
    • Youth for Europe
    • European Voluntary Service
    • Youth Initiatives

  9. Towards a Europe of Knowledge
    • Development of lifelong learning – to promote the highest level of knowledge for its people through broad access to education and its permanent updating
    • Gradual construction of an open and dynamic European educational area
    • Enhancement of citizenship
    • Development of employability
    • Physical mobility of teachers and learners
    • Virtual mobility of information and communication
    • Cooperation networks at the European level
    • Language and cultural skills
    • Innovation through transnational partnerships
    • Continuing improvement of community sources of reference

  10. European SchoolNet
    • A portal for public education in the EU

CITD-Madeira, and therefore all CI NLPs, will embrace and integrate these needs and directions as articulated by the European Union.

CI NLPs and the Madeiran Context

The international directions described by the EU need to be sensitively placed within the Madeiran context. Specifically, the needs in Madeira are:
  1. Economic Expansion
    • Transform Madeira into an Information Society to reduce its economic dependence on tourism
    • Provide a broader range of employment opportunities on the island in order to retain its workforce
    • Update the technological infrastructure

  2. Educational Expansion
    • Build an educational system that addresses the requirements of the EU's Information Society
    • Redesign and accelerate teacher professional development
    • Train all elementary and secondary students in the tools and methods of the Information Society
    • Increase post-secondary education opportunities for students

  3. Cultural Development
    • Create a system for bringing together the Madeiran diaspora
    • Capture and communicate the essence of Madeiran culture to the world
    • Develop new cultural initiatives

All CI NLPs must address: a) the needs and directions articulated by the EU; in combination with b) the needs and directions articulated by the local Madeiran government. This integration of stated aims and goals provides the underlying foundation.

All CI NLP's include local business development components, creating opportunities for business and industry alliances and local job creation. A CI NLP Team consults with government and industry in order to define specific project objectives, to analyze the cultural and economic context, and to assess alternatives and make strategic recommendations. A CI NLP Team then manages the implementation of the project.

CI NLP's are specifically designed to provide for sustainable, education system revitalization with a view to long term contribution to regional social and economic performance. This design follows directly from the EU documented links among educational system performance, general human resource development, and labor mobility shortfalls which are identified as major contributors to the perceived gap between European Union countries and regions in comparison to economies such as that of the United States.

School has always has the role of preparing people to live in society and for the job market. Today, more than ever, schools are faced with the problem of finding out which critical competencies are required by the Information Society. More than 80% of the jobs of next century have not yet been created of even thought about.

The beginning of this new world raises a set of questions in the epistemology field:

  • What to teach?
  • How to teach?
  • With what purpose?

On the other hand schools are already facing a whole number of situations that are a worry both to teachers and educational leaders. Among these local concerns are :
  • lack of motivation from students and teachers;
  • non-existance of effective ways of promoting interdisciplinary approaches; and
  • the lack of parents’ involvement in their children’s education.

General CI NLP Benchmarks

Resulting from this analysis are five general benchmarks for any CI NLP in Madeira:
  1. Value to the European Union and Global Context
    The EU has articulated a number of educational initiatives with the goal of creating a unified system of education for EU member states If CITD is to position itself as a strong influence within the EU, then CI NLPs must be seen as a value-added resource to the current initiatives.

  2. Value to the Madeira/Portugal Context
    CITD must also position itself strongly as a strong local and national educational service throughout Madeira and Portugal. This means that the knowledge of all CI NLP projects must simultaneously have strong local, regional and national linkages.

  3. Value to Real World Issues
    All learning must be aimed at solving problems, providing solutions, and creating new opportunities. This is the basis for success in the networked age. Purely academic pursuits that have little practical connection to real world issues and solutions are not fertile ground for CI NLPs.

  4. Value to Economic Development
    In Madeira, we are preparing students for gainful employment in a digital economy. This requires entrepreneurship as a core competency. World class examples of how this is benchmarked have been published by Human Resources Development Canada and The Conference Board of Canada.

  5. Value to Intercultural Growth
    The knowledge of CI NLPs has appeal to a variety of cultural contexts other than the home culture. This serves to attract the international and intercultural dimension to a CI NLP.

CI NLPs and the Madeiran Context

In order to gradually solve these and other issues, the Secretaria Regional de Educação of Madeira, implemented the program: CITD – Connected Intelligence Training and Development, with the purpose of building better conditions to improve the Educational System.

In this way the development of Connected Intelligence NLP's will lead to:

  • the training of the students in the new basic skills for the information society, making them more active in the learning process;
  • the creation of digital contents in Portuguese as well as the publishing of the students’ and schools’ work throughout the internet;
  • the promotion of network learning approaches that ease interdisciplinary and a closer relationship with the real world;
  • the correct use of digital and communication infrastructures in schools;
  • the creation of better conditions in schools not only as far as the infrastructures are concerned but specially in terms of new ways and methods of acting.

In a CI NLP the following critical areas must be addressed:
  • Organizational Design: Define a networked organizational design for CITD that is based on the principles of Connected Intelligence.
  • Core Concepts and Benchmarks: To define the core concepts and benchmarks for success in all CI NLPs.
  • Distributed Expertise: To define the roles and responsibilities of the CITD Trainers.
  • CI Clubs: To define the responsibilities of Associate Teachers and students within CI Clubs.
  • CITD Web Content Development: To define the strategy for web content development.
  • ICT: To define the role of Information and Communications Technology in CITD.
  • Performance Assessment: To develop the process for assessing the performance of CITD Trainers and CI Clubs.
  • Tracking: To summarize the vital statistics of the Madeiran school system.

The Regional Secretary writes:

The associated teachers will benefit from a reduction in the working schedule so they can develop the work in the club, will also receive a practical and certified training needed for the developing of the projects of at least 50 hours. This training will be on the design and methodology of the a CI NLP as well as on the use of software and specific equipment needed for the building and developing projects. Besides this they will always be supported in their work by the assigned team of CITD trainers. The CITD trainers will be in charge of coordinating and implementing the network learning projects as well as of the training above mentioned.

Concerning the development of the network learning projects, the responsibility of defining overall and specific objectives of the projects as well as the fulfilment and the way they will be presented as a digital product (website for example) is of the associated teachers together with the CI NLP Team. Since the role of the associated teacher is of great importance for the success of these projects, the associated teachers will compromise themselves to develop their work according to the methodology inherent to the program, as well as to coordinate parents and community participation, being also responsible for the conclusion of the project as foreseen in its objectives.

Besides the training, implementation of the projects and support given to the associated teachers of the CITD program (who will be available to answer any questions through, phone, fax, videoconference or e-mail) the CITD team also makes Its multimedia lab available, with all its equipment to help in the making of any work related to the projects.

CI Clubs: Connecting Expertise Across the School System

CITD supports each CI Club in achieving some or all of the following goals:
  1. Multi-school Relationships: Each CI Club is part of an extended network of learners focused on a common purpose in a CI Network Learning Project. Teachers and students from a variety of schools are linked through the Internet to forma distributed classroom.
  2. Multi-disciplinary Relationships: New relationships across teachers of various disciplines are built around a common purpose. The variety of perspectives and skills create a rich mix of talent and expertise in a CI NLP.

  3. Multi-age Relationships: Students of various ages work together to create digital content around a common purposes in an appropriate manner.

  4. Community Relationships: Parents and other community members are invited to participate in the activities of the CI Club.

  5. Business Relationships: When possible, business experts from various fields are integrated into a CI Club’s activities (e.g. – a fashion designer to help students design create new clothing).

  6. Government Policy Relationships: Relationships are built with educational policy initiatives in order to help CI move out into the school communities (e.g. – creating and producing art work in the local community)

  7. National Relationships: A CI Club’s activities, when appropriate, are integrated with national initiatives in education.

  8. International Relationships: A CI Club’s activities are integrated with international initiatives in education (e.g. – European SchoolNet and European Virtual School).

Each school in Madeira can apply to have a CI Club. A CI Club may be operated by a single teacher, or may involve a number of teachers. Each CI Club is a formal member of the CITD Program and therefore has a unique set of responsibilities not found in the traditional club system of Madeira. Clarification of this issue with all Associate Teachers is of essential importance to the success of the CITD Program.

CI Networked Performance Assessment

The language and structure of networks leads to the emergence of a new context for human performance. This context is people centered and is supported by new technological infrastructures. The liberating attributes of this context are:
  • rigid hierarchical organizations are replaced by networks of relationships
  • order and control must be balanced with chaos and complexity for creativity to flourish
  • embrace the fact that not everything can be planned for, confluence will introduce the unexpected
  • cultivate people through shared meaning and common purpose
  • planning involves uncertainty - adaptation is the rule
  • expertise, decision making and problem solving are distributed across the entire network
  • in order to empower all people in the network, cultivate trust and respect
  • balance logical, rationale, and factual thinking with intuition, imagination and ideas

CITD embraces a “cultural innovation” approach to human performance assessment. The assessment must produce in concrete terms a measurable picture of the total program’s ability to execute on CI NLP plans and deliver results to the education system. The resulting “snapshot of innovation” provides the basis for building on strengths and eliminating ineffective practices within the network. At its core, CITD challenges organizations obstructed by “turf” issues and bureaucratic “silo” thinking that result in rigid and stagnated approaches to learning. A networked approach to performance creates a base-line for establishing a shared vision, infrastructure, sharing resources, pooling knowledge, and building effective learning environments that will generate new levels of innovation and change.

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