Sunday, 7 September 2014

Ch 7 Open Learning at Work: 5 key ingredients for creating dynamic learning environments for staff

Learning environments that offer opportunities to explore, trial, play and collaborate allow innovation and creativity to flourish for all learners (staff and students).

I have just reread and reflected on Chapter 7 Part 1 of the powerful book  OPEN: How we'll work, live and learn in the future by David Price. This chapter refers to workplaces. I have  adapted the learning to suit a school setting. How can we develop a 'creative workplace' within our schools along the lines of the successful and inspiring Edison, Google & Facebook models? (page126)
Source reference - Google workplace image  
This fits with the changes we are seeing within classrooms as we move away from the traditional 'one size fits all' settings.
For example, this video explains the flipped approach to the way we have been conditioned to have classrooms and staffrooms set up in the 'same old' way for years.
It is called called Expanded Learning Opportunities

Price refers to 5 key ingredients for creating dynamic learning environments:
1. Create a Machine-Shop Culture
Here is a challenge particularly for our high schools. Imagine all disciplines or subject teachers planning together and creating combined learning environments rather than separate disciplines. Thomas Edison believed that a group of people with varied backgrounds could be the most inventive.
A machine shop culture reflects the fact that 'heads and hands are equals' (p127) Everyone's skills and talents are important and they all need to be valued irrespective of rank or responsibility. Tinkering, playing and 'doing' are vital.

2. Keep it Social
Allowing chances to socialize informally in the workplace contribute to creativity as well. Are we 'wringing an ounce more of productivity' out of our teams, or are they truly loving being engaged at work? Rather than talking at people, we need to talk with people.

We have recently transformed our weekly senior leadership team meetings into Friday Forums. These are open and optional for everyone including support staff, board, parents... We have them from 8am to 8:30 with croissants. Learn more about this here:

3.Make learning horizontally relevant
Be open to new ideas and put them into practice quickly and easily (p131) 

Giving my staff a 'sabbatical' away from meetings, gave them the time to explore and put into practice some of our ideas. We often spend time talking, planning and proposing ideas. Yet we don't plan time to activate these ideas. We also need to allow downtime to provide the freedom to make this happen.

4. Give learners the 'right to roam' on the commons
Offer choice in the workplace and options to be involved in a range of projects, as well as time to pursue interests and passions. Don't limit opportunities to only one person but allow many to take on multiple responsibilities.Distributing responsibilities among staff helps to cover what needs to be done. How would this work if we opened our lists of responsibilities to the whole group?

5. From individual to collective, from formal to informal
Social media has transformed accessibility to knowledge through Personal Learning Networks. Informal, social learning is more powerful than formal training. Leaders need to create the right conditions for learning to flourish. Understanding the power of social 
networks can only happen if you experience it personally. I'm encouraging staff to explore Twitter and share this link to my experiences to help.
I also share my Twitter experiences on this video when I first starting following Price and learnt about the book Open. You can access it here.

We need to intentionally foster learning and build vibrant learning cultures not only for our students but for our staff, parents and ourselves. As leaders, we need to model the learning that we wish to see in others and ensure that our personal learning journey never ends.
What's the difference between creativity and innovation?
Creativity = new ideas
Innovation= the ability to produce something with your ideas

Engaging in your work for the challenge and enjoyment of it is a motivational driver for developing expertise and creativity. It must be intrinsically driven.

As part of a Learning and Change Network, we are participating of our own accord and driving the learning and change together with students, families and the community with very little financial support. You can lean more about this here. Or watch this video.

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