Professional Learning Network

Introducing the new ICSEI Network: Professional Learning Networks
Dr Cindy Poortman, University of Twente
Dr Chris Brown, UCL Institute of Education
Given the increasing importance now placed on networks, it is timely that ICSEI has agreed that there is a need for a new network on networks: the Professional Learning Network, was launched at ICSEI 2017 in Ottawa. For the purposes of the new network we define learning networks as any group of connected educators who collaborate to leverage this connectivity in order to improve practices in and across schools and/or their school
system. Our focus thus encompasses (inter-school) professional development networks, research- or data use teams, lesson study teams, teacher design teams, and so on.

These networks typically vary in composition, nature and focus: they may consist of teachers from different schools, teachers and school leaders, or teachers and/or school leaders along with representatives from both local and national policymakers. In many cases networks form in partnership and involve joint work with external researchers. What they all have in common however is that they have learning and improvement at their core.
We envisage that, in the first instance, the network will be focused on
the role of networks in:

  1. Providing opportunities for knowledge generation and sharing between schools;
  2. Enabling teachers and others to direct their own professional development and enabling individuals to change their own practices through inquiry-led approaches; and
  3. Facilitating partnership working across a variety of stakeholders

At the same time we recognize that there are other challenges and related aims for research and practice regarding networks for educational improvement and we look forward to exploring those with you collaborating on conference symposia, special issues, books and future ICSEI network meetings.

Yours in Networking
Cindy and Chris
Chapman, C. (2014). From within- to between- and beyond- school improvement: A case of rethinking roles and relationships? State of the art session presented at the ICSEI Conference, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Hargreaves, D. (2010) Creating a self-improving school system, available at: http://
school-system.pdf, accessed on 6 July, 2016
Munby, S. and Fullan, M. (2016) Inside-out and downside-up: How leading from the middle has the power to transform education systems, available at:
wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Global-Dialogue-Thinkpiece.pdf, accessed on 6 July, 2016
Stoll, L. (2015) Using, evidence, learning and the role of professional learning communities,
in Brown, C. (Ed) Leading the use of research and evidence in schools (London, IOE Press)
(pp. 53-64)