MESH: Mapping Educational Specialist knowHow

SUPPORTING TEACHER PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT WITH EVIDENCE FROM THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING

Welcome to an experiment in ways of supporting lifelong learning for all teachers and evidence-informed practice. We have chosen the word ‘MESH’ to represent the interconnectedness of the knowledge required for teaching.

WHAT is MESH?

MESH is a prototype for a low cost, international, knowledge management system for teachers.

  • MESHGuidesare research summaries, updated periodically, written for teachers (and parents/carers), linked to the research giving rise to the advice.
  • MESHConnectdescribes the collaboration and international networking part of the MESH knowledge management and mobilisation strategy.

HOW is this to be achieved?

By harnessing the power of technologies as well as existing research knowledge to:

  • Build a professional knowledge base of research summaries to improve practice in classrooms
  • Maximise accumulation of knowledge and research impact and minimise duplication
  • Publish research summaries as knowledge maps. Prototype MESHGuides provide examples.

WHY is this needed?

Teachers need to keep up-to-date with the latest knowledge. To improve the quality of teaching by keeping teachers’ knowledge up-to-date the MESH system is testing:

  • Pooling quality-assured knowledge for teachers (subject content and pedagogy)
  • Providing open access, updatable, trusted, research summaries. Prototypes demonstrate emerging examples.

Extra benefits

  • Saving money by mobilising knowledge through technology giving efficiencies of scale and reach.
  • Supporting the UN’s SDG4 goals.

Everyone can help

  • Governments, charities and policy makers are asked to: value/require/encourage/co-ordinate MESHGuide research summary production; join the MESH Advisory Board
  • Universities are asked to: require MESHGuide contributions from Masters/PhD theses and research staff
  • Individual educators/professional organisations are asked to: to use/contribute to MESHGuides as researchers or reviewers and to train student teachers as research users and contributors
  • Potential funders are asked to: to fund research networks to pool knowledge in their areas of interest

Further information

High quality teaching requires a high degree of pedagogic knowledge as well as up-to-date subject content knowledge.

MESHGuides are updatable research summaries developed by teachers and researchers working together to support evidence-informed teaching.

We are at the beginning of a long journey pooling, sharing and testing our collective research-based knowledge. We estimate tens of thousands of concepts need to be included in the MESHGuide list. This is a massive task. You are invited to join in, whatever your interests in education. See the Getting Involved tab.

Educators from 193 countries are reading about, using and contributing to MESH – the Mapping Educational Specialist knowHow system. MESH provides a sustainable system using resources already in the education system to generate, quality assure and update evidence-based summaries written for educators.

Evidence-informed practice in classrooms (EPiC) is much talked about. We define evidence-informed practice as requiring both research/evidence and teacher professional judgement about the context and learners ie explicit knowledge + tacit knowledge. All teachers can be EPiC practitioners if they are given the tools.

MESH is an international education sector owned and managed initiative, developed by volunteers, with MESHGuide research summaries quality assured as are academic journal articles. For updates register and follow the Tweets (@meshguides) on the MESH online community on the Knowledge Hub (www.khub.net). Email enquiries@meshguides.org to join.

Every day, teachers and lecturers exercise their professional judgement in deciding how to help learners learn.Prototype “MESHGuides” show how, when fully developed, knowledge maps can provide evidence-based advice to support educators’ professional judgements. MESH is a tool of the Education Futures Collaboration charity (UK Charity number 1157511). This video outlines how MESHGuides provide educators, researchers and policy makers with access to the science of learning, supporting them in their work as well as the achievement of UNESCO and OECD priorities for education. Sign upto the newsletter to keep in touch.

MESH invites educators worldwide to collaborate to build a quality assured ‘Edupedia’ form of ‘Wikipedia’ of professional knowledge for teaching.

MESH supports the use of scalable and low cost technologies to enable educators to engage in research collaborations and publications around topics they consider will make a difference to student’s learning. To ensure sustainability, MESH is a voluntary education sector led initiative funded by contributions of time and money from a wide range of members and supporters.

 

WHY MESH? THE CHALLENGE OF THE UN’s SDGs

“In many countries, education is still far from being a knowledge industry in the sense that its own practices are not yet being transformed by knowledge about the efficacy of those practices…”(OECD, 2009, p.3).

The OECD identify a global challenge facing education today, as the need to create “knowledge rich, evidence based education systems”, making relevant research on transformative learning and teaching accessible. International studies (OECD:TALIS 2009, Barber and Mourshed 2009) indicate that improving the quality of our educators is more important than increased financial investment. The OECD challenges governments, academics and practitioners to adopt new ways of sharing and building knowledge. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.and Education 2030 plan require collaborative effort to achieve the challenging goals of quality education for all.

Existing models for system improvement assume that educators and teacher educators have easy access to a high-quality professional knowledge base. Professional pedagogic knowledge which provides the foundations of practice is treated as a ‘magic ingredient’ which does not require discussion, systematic management, renewal, coordination, resources or support. MESH addresses this gap.

MESH AIMS TO SUPPORT THE UN’S SDG 4 BY:

  • providing teachers and other educators with quick access to summaries of specialist knowledge, based on research, to support their professional judgement.
  • providing a place where teacher-research networks and academic researchers are able to disseminate their research in forms accessible to practitioners, teacher educators and policy makers
  • providing a means for identifying research questions that teachers and other educators want answered and communicating this with researchers
  • signposting current research and gaps in the research base so as to help avoid duplication
  • invite critical scrutiny of current research.

MESH is a translational research project initiated by the Education Futures Collaborationwith the goal of creating a joined up education profession, linking pockets of excellence in teaching, research and evidence based practice and supporting professional judgement with evidence through giving access to transformative diagnosis and intervention strategies.

MESH Guides are quality assured and tested with teachers, providing advice linked to research and evidence.

MESH, when fully developed, will use digital technologies and an innovative knowledge mapping approach to provide personalised research based advice and just in time learning to support teachers in extending and deepening their professional knowledge.

MESH – A NEW FORM OF PUBLISHING AND NEW WAYS OF WORKING

MESH uses online graphical  maps or flowcharts (MESHGuides) to present complex knowledge. Research and evidence links are provided with the summaries for those who want to gain in-depth knowledge. Such specialist knowledge and links might include video links to teachers’ explanations of complex concepts as well as to questions, modelling, simulations, assessments and interventions to improve understanding.

New ways of working: Professional knowledge is not static but there will never be enough additional funding to keep professional knowledge up to date unless we harness energies and resources already in the education system such as the research that is undertaken for masters thesis and PhD and EdD theses together with the work of teacher-researcher networks. MESH as a system is designed to engage educators in building and updating the evidence base for practice.

We ask

  • governments, charities and policy makers to:
    • value/require/encourage/co-ordinate MESHGuide research summary production
    • join the MESH Advisory Board to share your country’s knowledge mobilisation strategies and benefit from others
  • universities to build MESHGuide contributions into Masters and PhD theses and staff research expectations
  • individual educators/professional associations to use/contribute to MESHGuides as teachers, teacher-researchers, teacher educators and to train student teachers to be research users and contributors
  • potential funders to fund research networks to pool knowledge in their areas of interest.

Developing research informed practice is a challenge for educators not least because published educational research is rarely focused on the knowledge teachers need to improve educational outcomes.  MESH is an example of ‘translational research’ in education – translating research-based concepts into classroom practice. MESHGuides may be helpful for teachers who need to demonstrate that they meet Professional Standards.

Much research based knowledge is currently buried in theses, held by individual academics and teachers or published in academic journals and reports, which are not easily accessible to teachers. MESH provides a way for teachers to access this knowledge so that it can be leveraged to improve student outcomes. MESH provides the e-infrastructure to support worldwide collaborative work between those who want to strengthen the educational evidence base and support teaching becoming a strongly evidence-based profession.

We recognise the challenges involved in applied educational research and making findings accessible and applicable to practitioners. However, we are prepared to work with these uncertainties to see what we can create together. We invite you to join us if you too are prepared to try out this way of working in education. Publishing of MESHGuides, working with the toolkits, together with the partner online collaboration project MESHConnect provides a way for practitioners, teacher educators or policy makers to engage with educational research and pedagogic strategies in ways that are useful to their practice. Specialist groups produce specialist MESHGuides.

References and Further Reading

Background information and references which give information about the foundations on which MESHGuides have been built are included throughout this site.

****

See the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Barber, M., and Mourshed, M., 2007. How the world’s best-performing school systems came out on top’ McKinsey and Co. [online]. Source. Available from: http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/Social_Sector/our_practices/Education/Knowledge_Highlights/Best_performing_school.aspx[Accessed 18 June 2012].

OECD (2009) Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First results from Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) www.oecd.org/edu/school/43023606.pdfAccessed 30th August 2013

****

A  limited number of draft Guides are referenced here to demonstrate the concept of MESH.

  • The Entrepreneurial Education Guide is a collaboration between teachers, academics and NGOs bringing together evidence and advice from many reputable sources. Don’t all teachers need to be able to recognise and support the budding entrepreneurs who will be creating the jobs of tomorrow and so shaping the society that the teachers will grow old in?
  • The Reluctant Writers and Assessment in Primary Science Guides provide examples of summaries from extended  research projects.
  • The English as an Additional Language, Spelling Guides, Acoustic Accessibility and Visual Literacy came from collaborative work between teachers, local authorities and university teacher educators and researchers.
  • The UNESCO Learning to Live Together Guide is a summary of a UNESCO paper published for educators and policy makers.
  • The Pedagogic shift and FE and Vocational Teacher Training Guides are summaries from three years of research leading to PhDs.

New software and a new format is being implemented steadily and will improve look and feel and consistency. We are experimenting with different forms of layout and structure and research collaborations between researchers and teachers is ongoing.

Guides are updated as new knowledge accumulates, just as books are updated through new editions. Submissions, large and small, are invited. Guides in development are shown so that authors and others with an interest in this work can see work in progress. Guides are produced by teachers and researchers working together to create research summaries focused on the knowledge needed for effective teaching. An A-Z index approach similar to the NICE pathways has been adopted to provide a quick overview of a field and easy access to the knowledge specifically required by the user. Alternatively, the user may download the whole Guide.

Many of those involved have been involved in major teacher knowledge initiatives, as teachers, researchers and text book authors as well as digital technology initiatives in education for thirty years. The indexes of the texts we publish show there are thousands of concepts which experienced teachers know or could do with knowing but that this knowledge about effective teaching based on evidence is hard to access.

MESH, the Mapping Educational Specialist knowHow initiative, is being developed by educators seeking to link research and practice. MESH takes forward knowledge and ideas underpinning the UK government funded Teacher Training Resource Bank initiative 2001-2010 which led to Behaviour2Learn (closed with change of UK government in 2010), TTRB3, the SEN Portaland subject specific resources now held on subject association websites.

The MESHGuides approach has been developed and tested with teachers. You are welcome to join us in this venture developing what is becoming a WikiEdupedia! You are invited to submit ideas. We welcome video and audio submissions.

How do educators improve outcomes for learners?

In some countries, policies aimed at improving the quality of education focus on new curricula or structures of schooling rather than more complex issues of learning and teaching. MESH addresses the latter.

Initial teacher training provides an introduction to basic principles for beginner teachers. With experience, a teacher’s professional judgement develops and when linked with research based advice this provides the foundation for highly effective practice focused on improving individual achievement. So MESHGuides are designed not only for beginning teachers but also for experienced educators to use in demonstrating that they meet professional standards. Several strategies are being developed to do this (See models under the Get Involved tab).

We have identified well over a thousand core pedagogic concepts which very experienced teachers will draw on in making decisions about pedagogy. In time all of these areas will be covered.

As the software is developed, MESHGuides will be inter-linked and more easily searchable to enable you to search by topic, age group, country and so on.

There are many spinoffs from an online WikiEdupedia presenting the pedagogic content knowledge and the other areas of professional knowledge for teaching. For example, teachers of science will find many of the mathematics MESH Guides relevant to their work with pupils, as well as those produced by English and other disciplines.  Research about effective pedagogy in one subject area is often applicable in other subject and strand areas. One emerging theme from MESH Guides across subject areas is the importance of the student articulating their understanding of a concept many times before they have really grasped the concept – see for example the Mathematics guides by Dr Els De Geest and Dr Clare Lee. The research of Professor Neil Mercer and colleagues on pupils ‘Thinking Together’ reinforces the importance of talk in the classroom and has led to the Classroom Dialogue MESHGuide.

Impact of MESHGuides – your views  guide development

There is a building body of research about knowledge mobilisation, translational research and the impact of research-based practice on learning outcomes.

We ask all users of the MESHGuides to contribute to our research via an online survey. Reports about usage and impact will be published. Dr Richard Procter(Richard.Procter@gmail.com) who carried out research over three years on teachers’ response to the MESHGuides approach is leading on this longitudinal impact survey.

Contributions are welcome

If you have case studies to contribute or if you wish to develop a new MESH Guide, please see the Call for Authorsor submit your idea here.