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Anticipating the future, participating in change: A paradigm shift for professional development

Anticipating the future, participating in change: A paradigm shift for professional development

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Published by Hazel Owen

Please cite as: Owen, H. (2013). Anticipating the future, participating in change: A paradigm shift for professional development. Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Thinking, Wellington. We are facing a wide range of social, environmental, political, and economic issues, which can only be addressed through concerted participation in anticipative global thinking. Education practitioners already play a central role in fostering global thinking, but it can be argued that the time is ripe for a paradigm shift away from content to a greater focus on synergistic thinking and lifelong learning skills. To achieve this shift, however, it is necessary to also re-invent Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for education practitioners. The paper illustrates some of the dynamics and results of the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) programme by presenting the findings from the research conducted during 2010 and 2011. The findings and discussion clearly identify the value of the VPLD model by demonstrating changes in the practitioners' roles, which have resulted in, for example, shifts in beliefs about learning and teaching, corresponding changes in professional practice, and an increase in the development of students' metacognitive skills. As such, the VPLD programme fosters the enhanced potential of participating educators and leaders to contribute to future reforms that will, in turn, ensure that education is designed to promote participation, anticipation, and global thinking.

Please cite as: Owen, H. (2013). Anticipating the future, participating in change: A paradigm shift for professional development. Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Thinking, Wellington. We are facing a wide range of social, environmental, political, and economic issues, which can only be addressed through concerted participation in anticipative global thinking. Education practitioners already play a central role in fostering global thinking, but it can be argued that the time is ripe for a paradigm shift away from content to a greater focus on synergistic thinking and lifelong learning skills. To achieve this shift, however, it is necessary to also re-invent Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for education practitioners. The paper illustrates some of the dynamics and results of the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) programme by presenting the findings from the research conducted during 2010 and 2011. The findings and discussion clearly identify the value of the VPLD model by demonstrating changes in the practitioners' roles, which have resulted in, for example, shifts in beliefs about learning and teaching, corresponding changes in professional practice, and an increase in the development of students' metacognitive skills. As such, the VPLD programme fosters the enhanced potential of participating educators and leaders to contribute to future reforms that will, in turn, ensure that education is designed to promote participation, anticipation, and global thinking.

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Published by: Hazel Owen on Jan 19, 2013
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09/17/2013

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Anticipating the future, participating in change: A paradigm shift forprofessional development
 Hazel OwenEthos Consultancy NZNew Zealandinfo@ethosconsultancynz.comhttp://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/ 
Abstract
 We are facing a wide range of social, environmental, political, and economicissues, which can only be addressed through concerted participation inanticipative global thinking. Education practitioners already play a centralrole in fostering global thinking, but it can be argued that the time is ripe fora paradigm shift away from content to a greater focus on synergistic thinkingand lifelong learning skills. To achieve this shift, however, it is necessary toalso re-invent Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for educationpractitioners.The paper illustrates some of the dynamics and results of the VirtualProfessional Learning and Development (VPLD) programme by presentingthe findings from the research conducted during 2010 and 2011. Thefindings and discussion clearly identify the value of the VPLD model bydemonstrating changes in the practitioners' roles, which have resulted in, forexample, shifts in beliefs about learning and teaching, correspondingchanges in professional practice, and an increase in the development of students' metacognitive skills. As such, the VPLD programme fosters theenhanced potential of participating educators and leaders to contribute tofuture reforms that will, in turn, ensure that education is designed to promoteparticipation, anticipation, and global thinking.
Introduction
 
In 2002 a document referring to the United Nations‟ Education for All initiative
indicated:
[G]lobal research . . . has established unequivocally that….education is one of 
the most powerful instruments known for reducing poverty and inequality andfor laying the basis for sustained economic growth, sound governance, andeffective institutions (p. v).It is, however, problematic to draw a direct causal link between access to education andthe expansion of global thinking (Hannum, & Buchmann, 2003). Much is reliant on the
context in which the education is offered couched as it is “within the global economy,
within nations, within local communities, and within school systems, [and] socialstru
ctures” (Hannum, & Buchmann, 2003, p. 22), all of which shape and constrain the
impact of education. While acknowledging these considerations, within the NewZealand education context, there are strategies being applied to re-shape opportunitiesfor learning, while extending the capacity to think, such that anticipative global thinking
really
informs education reform.Skills required for global thinking include creative problem solving, culturalresponsiveness, and well-honed communication skills. Education practitioners alreadyplay a central role in fostering global thinking, but it can be argued that the time is ripefor a paradigm shift away from content to a greater focus on synergistic thinking andlifelong learning skills. However, many education systems tend to encourage passivelearners who do not question, and for whom the ultimate goal is finding (and
remembering) the „right‟ answer. The approaches within these education systems have a
tendency to be reinforced by practitioner professional development, and as a result arereiterated by teachers. Most readers, for example, are likely to have sat in a room(physical or virtual) during a PLD session where a facilitator delivers a presentationabout innovative practice...while the audience passively listens and is not encouraged toparticipate!There are some initiatives underway, however, where education practitionerprofessional development is being re-designed (Ham & Davey, 2008). Shifts towardcontextualised, personalised, self-paced learning, underpinned by the development of an
 
online professional social identity, are challenging notions of what ProfessionalLearning and Development (PLD) actually comprises. This challenge means thatchange is not a simple process because it requires wider understandings aroundexpectations of what PLD
should 
be and what it
should 
provide (Stoll, 2004).The Virtual PLD (VPLD) initiative was instigated in October 2009 by the New ZealandMinistry of Education, who also funded the project. The VPLD model and approachwas piloted and evaluated in 2010 with ten teachers from the tertiary, secondary andprimary sectors. The findings from the pilot indicated that when professional learningwas situated within the practitioner's context, with complementary, easily-accessibleopportunities for sharing of practice within an online Community of Practice (CoP),participants demonstrated high levels of engagement as well as changes in their ownteaching practice.The VPLD programme was subsequently rolled out in 2011 with a total of twentyteachers and school leaders (including eight participants who continued from 2010).Participants for both 2010 and 2011 were from a variety of locations in New Zealand, aswell as a range of disciplines, and diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. Thispaper presents some of the findings from the research conducted alongside the pilot andthe roll out.
Literature Review / Theoretical Framework
Educators such as Springer (1993) have studied global thinking in the context of education institutions, and one way of considering the concept is as a system of interrelated modes of thinking, such as creative, lateral, critical and logical (Bonser,2004). These enable the perception of the world as a whole system, along with aninsight into the impact of human activities (Martin, 2010). In turn, these insights canassist adaptation to new environments by developing more complex conceptual modelsof the world (Beck, & Cowan , 1996). However, while there has been great progress inthe fields of neuroscience and educational psychology, it is still not known how humansactually think.

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