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Complexity and Pedagogy: Shanghai invitational workshop

Simon Buckingham Shum, Sunday 27 October 2013 | Annotate
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I have just spent an extraordinary week in Shanghai in an intensive workshop designed by complex systems people, for complex systems people, to reimagine educational systems (research and practice) as complex adaptive systems. I was feeding into future scenarios a complex systems perspective on current developments in learning analytics and collective intelligence technologies.

The event was hosted graciously by East China Normal University (Institute of Schooling Reform & Development), a Key Research Institute in the University of National Educational Ministry. ECNU's ground-breaking work is led by Prof. Ye Lan (CCTV interview), who is shaping national policy on reforming the school system to create more creative students with the qualities needed to thrive in the 21st century 'age of complexity'. Shanghai schools leapt to fame when they topped the last PISA league tables, and part of this workshop was to examine our assumptions about what 'good' looks like, and how to assess educational quality for our complex times.

The workshop was expertly facilitated by Incept Labs (Sydney), who specialise in the applications of complexity science to wicked problems. The event was originally conceived by Ruth Deakin Crick (Univ. Bristol) and Chris Goldspink (Incept Labs), with whom I co-founded the Learning Emergence network, and recently ran the Dispositional Learning Analytics workshop at LASI13, Stanford. We partnered with Prof. Li Jiacheng at ECNU as it became clear that our visions and values for systemic learning systems design are closely aligned. With further backing from University of Auckland, participants were invited from New Zealand, Australia, China and UK.

We expect a rich strand of collaborations to flow from this exciting meeting, so watch this space.

See below for more details of Prof. Ye's influential work.

Professor Ye Lan was born in Shanghai in December 1941.  She is currently Tenure Professor and a doctoral supervisor at East China Normal University (ECNU).  Professor Ye is also Director of the Contemporary Chinese Basic Education Development and Innovation Base under the overall “985 Project” of ECNU; Director of the New Basic Education Research Centre; Honorary Director of the Institute of Schooling Reform and Development (ISRD), ECNU, which is a key research base of the Ministry of Education in China; and Counselor of the People’s Government of Shanghai Province. She is concurrently appointed as a member of the National Educational Science Planning Leading Group.  Prof. Ye has formerly served as Convener of the Education Appraisal Panel of the 4th and 5th Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council; Vice Chairman of The Chinese Society of Education; Vice Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Council of Social Services; Head of Education Department, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Science, founding Director of ISRD, and Vice-President at ECNU.  Prof. Ye is an eminent scholar in the following key research areas: theories of education study, theories of education research methods, contemporary basic education of China, teacher education reform etc.  Her major publications include Jiao yu gai lun (Principles of Education), Jiaoyu yanjiu fanfalun chutan (An Exploration of Education Research Methods) and Xin ji chu jiao yu lun (On New Basic Education).  She has also edited and written a number of research series, and has published over 90 research articles.  She has been responsible for various state key studies, and received many national academic awards.

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