Networked learning & quality-assured peer support as a key implementation support & learning tool
A key source of implementation support and leadership learning which was consistently identified by Fellowship participants is to become involved in an effectively run, carefully targeted peer support network that is focused specifically on sharing good practice in assuring achievement standards and the quality of assessment.
Key question addressed in this section
What role does networked learning, peer support and benchmarking play in supporting effective change implementation and the identification of proven solutions to the key change challenges in this area?
List out your most positive experiences in using peer networks and compare your views with those identified by participants in the Fellowship workshops and good practice research on the area in Boxes 19 – 21 below. Decide if you or your team should become involved in any of the networks on assuring learning standards and assessment listed in Box 22 below.
Below is a summary from the workshop participants of the key reasons for engaging in targeted networking (Box 19) and the key checkpoints for making sure that any network in the area is efficient, effective and productive (Box 20). It is suggested that these are taken into account and used to initiate and sustain existing networks in the area, including the recently formed Peer Review of Assessment Network (PRAN).
Why bother networking?
Key quality checkpoints for effective practice in Higher Education Networking
A effective peer network:
Box 21 identifies the key tests and indicators identified during the Fellowship that can be used to judge if a peer learning network focused on improving achievement standards and assessment quality, once it is underway, is operating productively and efficiently.
Networking effectiveness tests
It is important, said participants, to recognise that well-led networks around shared interests and human interaction are the key to engaging people with web-sites and data-bases. It is, they said, human interaction and the recommendations of colleagues that leads people to click on a particular website. People, they said, rarely just ‘go onto the internet’ to see if they can find a relevant website. A key issue repeatedly raised during the workshops was the need to link and leverage the many existing networks that are giving focus to the issue of assuring the quality of achievement standards and assessment so that, rather than operating in parallel, we ‘network the networks’. Examples of productive networks that might be considered in this regard are given in Box Twenty 22.
Examples of productive networks that might be linked around the achievement standards and quality of assessment agenda
See Freeman, M & Ewan, C (2014): Good Practice Report: Assuring learning outcomes and standards, OLT, Sydney Table One pgs 29ff – 36: Enabling infrastructure especially the use of various networks to support quality improvement in the area. These include the various Deans and A/Deans, Learning and Teaching and Disciplinary Networks along with the creation of a range of networked databases,
Bell, S, Scott, G, Jackson, J & Holland, B (2008): Towards a quality management & development framework for community engagement in Australian HE at: http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/7362/CE_paper_Bell_Scott_Holland_Jackson_Sept_17_07.pdf
Hopkins, D (2003): Understanding networks for innovation in policy and practice, Networks for Innovation, OECD, Paris at: http://www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/themes/innovation/41283986.pdf
A video discussing effective approaches to networking produced with the assistance of the SustainEd network is available at: http://youtu.be/dyLjGsCgiiM