Key resolutions of the 2011 Global Policy Forum on Learning: Back to Learning, 5 July 2011, University of Hong Kong
The theme of the 2011 Global Policy Forum on Learning Back to Learning (5 July 2011) was how to restore learning as the core education policy concern, and to make sure fore-running research results on learning will inform policymaking and make impact on education. In this forum, learning scientists and policy leaders gathered to share with educators and the general public their insight and recommendations on the topic. The main insight and recommendations are as follows.
It is vital to reinforce the centrality of learning as a core education policy concern. We live in an ever-changing world, and education for the 21st century must enable the harnessing of people’s capacity to adapt in a fairly unpredictable world with agility. In this context, lifelong learning is imperative. Furthermore, the world is increasingly becoming unequal, strengthening the social, economic and digital divide. Education is a right. Equal opportunities for learning foster the potential of education to redistribute various capitals and to promote shared growth and inclusive development.
Our inability to design schools that can meet present-day challenges partly arises from the traditional divide between policy and learning. The former is the domain of policymakers while the latter is taken care of by learning scientists and pedagogues. It is also caused by the situation where we know much more about learning but we have not been successful in using the knowledge to make enough impact at practice level. To tackle this situation, we should pay attention to the following five areas:
- designing an effective and inclusive learning environment. Learners are not all the same – and efforts are needed to make learning more collaborative, exploiting play, creative work and experiences, etc.;
- aligning pedagogy and assessment. The way learning occurs is very important, but there is a large gap between what we assess and what people believe what learning is like. Assessment should be able to tell what learners can do and how they can improve their learning; and encourage supportive feedback continuously on learning processes;
- enhancing capability to optimize technology in the service of learning;
- promoting professional learning communities and networks among various education stakeholders such as learners, teachers, principles, curriculum designers, teacher educators. A change in one area (e.g. curriculum) requires a change in other areas (e.g. teacher education, school leadership). We should move away from working vertically, which has been done traditionally, and instead working in communities and networks;
- fostering learning leadership at the micro, meso and macro levels. Leadership impacting learning at different levels needs to be aligned and strengthened.
The learning agenda is coming to the fore among many groups of stakeholders. Although there are many initiatives to measure quality, document and analyse structures, teacher preparation and school choice, insufficient attention is paid to what goes on in classroom, or “black box”. This situation may be due to fear about interfering and reducing teachers’ autonomy and professionalism. However, a way forward and a key to enhancing learning are to go into the black box.