Networked Learning Communities

Networked learning communities or NLC’s intentionally work across schools to strengthen professional learning communities by creating new opportunities for knowledge sharing and creation (Katz, Earl, & Jaffar, 2009). When it comes to transforming schools, educators should consider leveraging the power of Networked Learning Communities. Networks aligning with the goals of the 21st century skills movement can become an important mechanism to enhance school reform efforts and increase student achievement by offering a forum for broad yet personalized learning, reflective practitioner research, peer learning, shared ownership, partnerships and empowerment of teachers and school leaders. Carefully designed networks:
  • serve as breeding grounds for innovation and risk-taking building better capacity for reform
  • encourage many of the ideas inherent in the school reform movement
  • facilitate a more dynamic and interactive level of collaboration and sharing
  • provide opportunities for teachers to both consume and create knowledge across traditional boundaries
  • improve teacher practice by expanding the pool of ideas to draw upon and engaging participants in mutual problem solving
  • allow schools to share expertise with a broader audience
  • promote ideas that challenge rather than prescribe
  • allow for discussion of ideas with no agreed upon solutions
  • respect and encourage both inside teacher knowledge and outside expert knowledge  to create new knowledge
  • overcome traditional isolation and hierarchical models
  • encourage higher quality professional learning experiences
Strong networks share the following characteristics:

  • clearly defined purpose and direction
  • intentionally built collaboration and commitment
  • adequate resources
  • emphasis on building relationships through meaningful activities
  • view of network leadership as cross-cultural resource brokering
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