MESHConnect

-a research & development system for a self improving education sector

This is a briefing and an invitation. MESHConnect is the term we are using for the networks of educators who come together in various ways to advance MESH. Typically MESHGuides are developed by academics and teachers working together, often using the affordances of digital tools to engage experts in networks with others across and within countries. For example, the MESHGuide on Early Years Education in Emergencies, brought together a network from many countries, meeting virtually to develop the research summaries.

There are many existing networks of schools wanting to collaborate to build and critique the evidence base for practice, creating self-critical schools which are exciting places to work. MESHConnect has a vision of research and development in a self improving system which links teachers, academics and students using and developing quality assured processes and tools to create a strong public evidence base underpinning practice. You are invited to consider the proposal and to become actively engaged as a member, supporter or trustee, or to let us know of networks you are in so that we can collaborate.

Purpose

The purpose of MESHConnect is to:

  • connect educators working to develop evidence-informed practice for a self-improving education system
  • encourage research addressing questions raised by school based educators
  • work with members and supporters to share research instruments and outcome measures and provide access to tools, training and online and face to face events for educators who wish to be involved whether as users or creators of evidence
  • support personalized and relevant CPD through collating, curating and making accessible research and evidence relevant to improving teacher knowledge (subject content and pedagogy)
  • identify gaps in research and support collaborative research networks addressing the gaps
  • ensure there is a coherent strategy for knowledge management and mobilization for the education sector.

The intention is not to replace or compete with existing services but rather to signpost existing practice and to test out new ways of working to achieve evidence-informed practice.

Guiding principles

MESHConnect members commit to collaborating to build and share high quality evidence-based knowledge to dispel edumyths, to empower teachers to be critical about research and to include student voice in R&D in education. Members acknowledge that evidence-informed practice requires the application of professional judgement to evidence; that evidence alone is not a sufficient base for decisions about practice.

Commitment required from MESHConnect members

School members are required to nominate an active research lead who co-ordinates research leads across the school. Training and resources are shared by members.

Ways of working

To achieve the purposes, we suggest using digital tools to minimize costs and maximize opportunities for teachers to be involved.

For example, using the Knowledge Hub online communities software supports connections through online communities. At some point, we expect that there will be national listings of online networks for all subject areas and cross-curricular areas. This may take decades but it is a logical development which may need national leadership.  The alternative is to continue with dispersed unconnected communities which don’t then facilitate professional engagement across the sector.

We suggest using existing or new processes and tools online for example, via the Knowledge Hub to

1) gather research questions from schools and develop collaborative projects – what do we want to improve and how?

2) provide an avenue for student voice via school student research councils

3) co-ordinate and further develop earlier work on networked learning communities

4) use translational research techniques to ensure user-friendly publications and maximize the value of masters/EdD/PhD research

6) share research instruments and outcome measures and develop online research training appropriate to school based research

7) use TeachMeet type events to produce evidence-informed state of the nation briefing papers on topical issues.

8) ensure quality assurance through peer and expert review

9) use digital technologies to maximum effect to support inclusion of schools, staff and students regardless of location.

Governance

What level of governance is necessary? Each online workspace/community needs to be created by an individual or a group who are the ‘facilitators’ of the group. If all who create an online community are part of an online community specifically for facilitators then the group could be self managing or elect co-ordinators annually.

Imagine, if each network had members who were academics, teachers/lecturers, business people, students, politicians as appropriate for the group. The management group might be run like a professional association. If all network leaders were in one online community, with each online community having one vote, elections could be held for co-chairs (one school based, one academic for two year posts) vice chairs (again academic/teacher) who then become chairs. The management group might also have representation from academia (e.g. teacher training and research), early years, primary, secondary, FE and special education. A secretary and treasurer could be elected. The board may wish to organise sponsorship for activities and/or for scholarships. This approach could give lean and efficient management. A separate group of esteemed educators could deal with disputes.

If you wish to be involved, contact admin@meshguides.org