Developing Learning Frameworks
World Class Arena has created curriculum and learning frameworks for multiple, different contexts across the world. These have focused on the development of advanced conceptual thinking, development of 21st century skills and on the wider curriculum and learning in schools.
Learning frameworks should be designed in order to make transparent the intended learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, aptitudes) for the learner. Many countries have expressed learning in terms of national curricula and sometimes these focus on core skills - numeracy and literacy in particular.
World Class Arena's work has led us to look at learning frameworks that build on these solid foundations. Some frameworks have focused on 21st Century Skills, looking at what young adults need to function in society and in the worlds of work. Our work has also looked at how to build wider skills into the taught curriculum - through a focus on aptitudes such as persistence, confidence and communication. We have looked at ways to assess such skills, for example through building assessments of collaborative problem solving in which students work in groups of 2. World Class Arena has also worked on global frameworks for learning; this included a meta-analysis of learning skills for the Assessing and Teaching 21st Century Skills (ATC21S) project, and contributing as a member of the OECD's Mathematics Expert Group, creating the framework for PISA's assessments of mathematical literacy.
Through all of this work, some similar issues emerge: what knowledge is being taught; how does children's cognition and understanding develop; what skills are being fostered and developed; what attitudes is the learning fostering.
Issues also emerge about how best to represent learning frameworks to teachers - through frameworks themselves, through classroom resources, through CPD, through assessments and tests that represent the learning framework.
What many educational systems have found around the world is that learning intentions can too easily be seen through the lens of assessments and tests. As soon as high stakes assessments make an appearance, they risk skewing what is taught. Publishers quickly learn to reflect the content of the assessments in classroom resources; teachers and educators are led to focus on preparing students for a one time test performance. Soon, what is taught is restricted to (and reflects accurately) the content of tests.
All the more reason, therefore, to double-down and build meaningful learning frameworks to support designers of educational experiences, courses and events - to ensure that learning focuses across such frameworks, not just on the test. All the more reason, also, to reform tests and re-consider that we value as assessment of learning.
Examples of Learning Frameworks
World Class Arena has develop several different types of learning frameworks. These categories are listed below and are explained more fully further down.
These frameworks might encompass all aspects of activity related to learning - codes of conduct in schools, behaviour and reward systems, assemblies, sports. Students learn how to behave in the world from all aspects of their school experience and about all their interactions with teachers. Whole Education frameworks seek to make all of these features of learning explicit.
Learning Analytics Frameworks
A particular feature of e-learning is the capacity of the computer to collect vast amounts of information about learners and the success of learning. World Class Arena has worked for content providers to create frameworks for learning that is predominantly computer-based.
PISA and TIMSS assessments are based on frameworks that describe the knowledge, skills and cognitive demand for students at certain ages. These are used to assess what students know and can do at age X, not on how their schools might have have organised learning up to that point.
Defining skills and new domains
World Class Arena has developed frameworks for skills and for areas of learning not traditionally included in state curricula. For example, we created a structure for Collaborative Problem Solving and we completed a meta-analysis of frameworks describing 21st century skills.
World Class Arena Limited (WCAL) supported Mawhiba in Saudi Arabia by designing an Advanced Supplementary Curriculum (ASC), with learning resources, headteacher and teacher training, ongoing assessments for schools and an annual assessment of student progress.
The educational design and development of these resources was based upon a curriculum map, developed by Mawhiba with advice and input from WCAL. This focused on the overall curriculum aims of creating future leaders, developing learners of distinction and fostering the growth of entrepreneurs. The classroom resources were based on developing and growing students' values, attitudes and attributes; skills; knowledge and understanding. The emphasis was placed on the first of these - values, attitudes and attributes.
The curriculum map places these principles within an overall framework, covering all aspects of students' learning and experience in a Mawhiba school. The framework owes much to the earlier curriculum thinking led by Mick Waters at QCA in England. It is organised around three central questions - what is a school trying to achieve? how will the school organise learning to achieve this? and how will it assessment achievements? Learning is conceive as including, but not limited to subjects. Students learn from special events, from clubs; they learn by thinking and through discussion, by revisiting concepts and building specific behaviours.
Learning analytics frameworks
A key feature of our work with Itza Media has been focus on Deep Learning Aptitudes. These include:
Persistence (determination & practice; intellectual resilience)
Curiosity (digging deeper; discovering; exploring)
Discrimination (judging sources; forming opinions)
Innovative Thinking (design thinking)
These are underpinned by a layer of Learning Strategies, informed by Dunlovsky and by Dweck's Growth Mindset. For example, if a Growth Mindset meaningfully helps learning, what might that look like when represented in e-learning resources with in-built reward, motivators and assessments of progress.
A further layer focuses on the intended learning behaviours:
Attributes (e.g., becoming an adaptive learner; numerate; confident, curious)
Skills (e.g., estimating, data literacy, mental maths)
Problem solving (behaviours that help the learner respond to the unusual or unfamiliar)
Perhaps because a content-based learning resource must embody models of cognition, motivation and learning behaviours, this Learning Analytics Framework needs to make explicit all of these design features.