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the learnometer project

a suite of components for all to progress learning
through ICT, policy + design

heppell.net with microsoft



what is the learnometer project?

All round the world countries are investing significant and increasing amounts in education, particularly in ICT and in buildings.
At the same time clear emergent learning trends, effective and consensual, are re-defining 21st century learning.

Two fundamental questions recur: (1) is our investment taking us in the right direction, towards 21st century learning? and (2) if it is, do we know how effective that investment has been - what should improve, and how do we know that it has?

This project, with its 4 component parts, seeks to answer those questions. This is timely and significant work and there is very substantial worldwide interest in this project.


1 trends website

Establishing emerging learning trends is complex. Schools exist in different contexts and cultures, at different stages of development and with hugely different available resources.

Yet, despite that, there are some clearly observable changes which can be depicted as trends from "old" and towards "new" practice. For example a trend away from one-size-fits-all and towards personalisation can be seen globally. But in different nations, regions and schools, each trend will vary from slight to very substantial.
Most of these trends have only be made possible by advances in learning technology and it is fitting that ICT is used to bring schools, regions and nations together.

The trends website offers a "slider" for each continuum and allows users to show where they currently are, and where they intend to be in a year's time:
The software then matches users up with others who share similar ambitions, elsewhere in the world.

The trends website also offers an aggregate view - how are the others progressing? - but it also helps to survey newly emergent trends too. These trend aggregates are a powerful litmus test of policy direction. For example, "is our ICT investment congruent with world trends?"

a lot of exploration has, over some years, has produced this indicator of changing learning trends between the 20th and 21st centuries - it was previously offered here as a discussion point for the world learning survey.

however, a major development of this strand is an already-at-beta software tool to allow institutional and national feedback on these trends, whilst helping to assemble aggregates - moving the sliders to reflect your own targets and ambition will effectively link you to other schools, regions or nations sharing very similar ambitions - then, you should talk!


2 world learning survey

The World Learning Survey aims to report biennially. In the first year a considerable amount of research has already unpacked speeches, policy documents, legislation, interviews and conversations.: what outputs were sought from educational investment? It is already clear that there is a complex portfolio of possible outputs, unsurprising since each nation and region varies.
However, the supplementary question - also addressed by the project - is the extent to which we can measure these outputs.

The World Learning Survey aims to produce an interim first report that canvasses further contributions and, informed also by the trends website's aggregates, produces clear two yearly guidance as policy intention and outcomes. Alongside that a suite of tools are being developed to aid the measurement of the complex outputs revealed by the WLS as significant.

if you were to spend money on education, for example on buildings and on ICT, what might you expect to see improving?" a lot of governments and policy makers have now been asked - here's what some of them have contributed. Pav is trawling through everything from government policy documents to schools' long term plan to see what else is declared as desirable outputs from educational investment - this is as much detaective work as research! Adrian is exploring the economics of all this - countries like Singapore are clear that whatever they spend on education they will get back in National Income for example.


3 doctoral profession

(much more detail... )
ICT is evolving rapidly. Barely two years ago YouTube didn't exist. At the same time, as revealed by the World Learning Survey and the Trends website, pedagogy is changing rapidly too. To be confident about what new approaches are effective in different contexts needs a clear and evolving evidence base.

To collect that clear evidence an initial group of countries, very mixed in their economies and educational systems, are being brought together to develop an cohort based doctorate for groups of teachers within schools. Their shared hypothesis is that their schools can improve, their scholarship is to explore what other schools, worldwide, are doing that is effective; their action research is to map that effective practice onto their own school and their final celebration is an exhibition of their work, both online and face to face.

The accumulation of their clear evidence of effective practice will be a massive resource for other schools and other policy makers to share worldwide.
This cohort based Prof. D will also substantially raise the esteem of the teaching profession, but is very much work-placed study - at minimal cost and with minimal impact on teachers' already busy lives.

Reflective teachers are a valuable and scarce resource; they need to be nurtured and supported; potentially almost all teachers can be powerfully reflective in their own context and culture, given the opportunity and support.


4 effective practice exchange

Today teachers want, and seek, a place to exchange their insights as to what constitutes effective practice.
As they move to become more reflective they also need a place to archive their action research. This final component of the Learnometer project seeks to build a simple repository for teachers' insights, from the immediate and pragmatic to the researched and reflective. Building on the exhibition dimension of the cohort based Prof. D, the intention is to develop a quality assured place for the exchange of effective, proven, strategies for school improvement.

think of this as an exchange of ingredients: each schools context, culture, staff, parents and chiuldren are unique and will need a unique recipe to succeed, but it is important to draw upon tested and robust ingredients to build that recipe.

the properly tested components of effective school improvement, tested and documented by the Doctoral School programme, will result in a series of exhibitions as part of the cohort graduation) - this effective practice exchange becomes a store of tested and effective ingredients linked to clear evidence of school improvment ready for others to take up to build effective local "recipes"

the work on this component has only just begun

sum of the parts
ICT has not only enabled this welcome revolution in teaching and learning practices, but also offers the solution to the needs generated by such rapid change.
The Learnometer project offers a suite of components harnessing ICT: to map the trends in learning; to arm policy makers at every level with tools to measure and be confident in their outputs; to provide a vehicle to help teachers develop and exchange effective practice; and to accredit them as learning professions for doing so.
A decade back the challenge that ICT brought was to see to what extent it could be harnessed to be properly useful to education. Now it can offer almost any future we wish for and the challenge is to know what might be possible, to be clear to what extent we have achieved our hopes, and to build a genuinely global exchange of insights and wisdoms that can move education forward quickly enough to keep up with technological and cultural changes.
This rate of change is not going to diminish, but the Learnometer Project aims to give policy both pace and agility.

politicians would love, simply, to say "we spent money and things are better" but to do so they would need to trap children in the "criterion referencing" of past children's performances to evidence "better standards" or whatever - in the 21st century this is an impossible brake on learning, but standards still matter of course.

in practice politicians can only say "we spent money and things are different; here is why different is better" the learnometer project seeks to help provide evidence of how "different" can be "better" and indeed much better!

The sum of these four parts should ensure that new investment in education, particularly in technology, buildings and infrastructure, is most effectively directed thus minimising waste, offering both an appropriate rate of return and a sustainable path into the rapidly evolving future.

who is in the learnometer team?

learnometer is a long term project with generous support from Microsoft and others. The core team are:

Prof. Stephen Heppell: "Europe's leading online education expert" Microsoft 2006. "Europe's leading online education guru" Guardian 2004. "The most influential academic in recent years in the filed of technology and innovation" the Department for Education and Skills. UK, 2006

Stephen has very considerable experience in policy, research, practice, new technologies, learning and more. He enjoys global respect. Stephen leads the collegiate Learnometer team, and the project.

Dr. Pav Chera: Pav has experience ranging from innovative interface design, development and evaluation, including authoring and publishing, pioneering interactive multimedia 'talking books' for reading instruction, teaching at all stages throughout higher education in Business, Computing/IT and Education, an active researcher of e-learning opportunities and is a strong authority at under and post graduate levels regarding curriculum design, development, implementation, evaluation, recruitment, marketing and senior management activities at national and international levels of higher education, including recent Midddle East experience.

Pav is driving our research into governments' and schools' aspirational outputs from their learning investments.

Dr. Adrian Boucher: Adrian's vast treasure chest of experience ranges from being one of Her Majesty's Inspectors in FHE to Director of a teaching and research Centre at University of Warwick's Education & Industry and on to Birmingham University's Graduate School of Business.

Adrian is driving our research into current and past economic models of educational investment;


why "learnometer"

there is a substantial literature of "dashboard" performance indicators (for example see here or here or here) to help represent the complexity of outcomes in decision making - the "learnometer" is intended to be congruent with these approaches, whilst being sympathetic to the remarkable complexity of success teaching and learning. The learnometer sits alongside other parallel work with the hope of building a full dashboard of indicators to further aid educational policy and expenditure decision making.


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last updated: 7-mar-07 7:32