Sustainable Learning

Sustainable learning enables practitioners to share effective practices through reflection on experience and to personalize knowledge to meet immediate objectives that have long-term impact on organization effectiveness. The Carey Institute for Global Good, Center for Learning in Practice, August 2016

Why sustainable learning?

The development of a Sustainable Learning Framework is based on the interdependence between human societies and knowledge. Economic, social, and political forces are placing pressures upon organizations to acquire knowledge quickly and execute learning reliably. These forces may threaten the continued health and prosperity of organizations and the people they serve. It is for this urgent reason we have chosen to focus on the development of a Framework for Sustainable Learning.

The power of rapidly emerging digital connectedness combined with the growing aspirations of civil society organizations to more effectively develop talent and share knowledge presents a singular opportunity for improving how work gets done. We believe Sustainable Learning is the pathway to assure those aspirations are realized. Sustainable Learning fosters exemplary professional practice in education and beyond and helps meet the demands for collaborative knowledge development and "scaling what works."

The Five Pillars of Sustainable Learning

Communities That Produce Value

Participants gain or have access to connection, knowledge, resources, support, and deepened learning. These are assured through:
  • Shared language - A well-defined set of terms to describe practice that the community or project group consistently uses.
  • Community Plan - Setting goals, objectives, deliverables, and identifying core group members.
  • Democratic engagement - Participants are provided the support they need to fully engage in the community; agree to work respectfully to resolve differences; and encourage diverse points of view.
  • Structured peer-dialogue - Conversations are purpose focused, facilitated, and participants understand the "ground rules" of discussion.
  • Standardized tools and routines - The community or group agrees upon technologies to be used and the periodicity and duration of events.

Reflection That Improves Performance

Methods and techniques that help individuals and groups reflect on their experiences and actions in order to engage in a process of continuous learning. Reflective Practice for Sustainable Learning is:
  • Inquiry-Based- The posing of questions, problems or scenarios that foster reflection on work.
  • Work-Embedded- Professional learning that is grounded in day-to-day practice with the intent of improving student learning
  • Personalized - Participants can focus on their own objectives and select among methods, tools, and content to do so.
  • Peer-to-Peer - Structured peer support through critical friends groups or coaches is integrated into work.
  • Scaffolded - Participants move from needing a high level of support to being self-directed.

Analytics for Action

The discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data that provide practitioners with evidence of impact and guidance for improvement.
  • Data generation,access, analysis
  • Assessment of practice Participants use evidence-based proof of progress, outcome, impact.
  • Data Visualization Communities use graphical display of abstract information for sense-making (data analysis) and communication.
  • Micro-credentialing Members are able to earn recognition by demonstrating experience, expertise, and participation, using community defined rubrics.
  • Customization Participants can access and curate community knowledge for their specific needs and context.

Knowledge Exchange That Facilitates the Adaptation of "What Works"

Peer-to-peer learning, to share, replicate, and spread- "what works." Practitioners learn from the practical experience of others who have gone through, or are going through, similar challenges, connect to each other and have ready access to practical knowledge and solutions. Knowledge Exchange for Sustainable Learning is:
  • Peer-to-Peer - Sharing occurs among and between professionals who are peers and connects people, resources and data.
  • Practical - Knowledge sharing helps understand "what works", for whom and why.
  • Empowering - Provides experiential learning using a peer-to-peer approach.
  • Strategic- Knowledge sharing is focused on specific, collaborative, and well defined goals.
  • Multi-Channel - Uses a a variety of platforms, approaches and distribution mechanisms to share knowledge and enable re-mixing.

Content That Is Contextual, Open and Applied

The collaborative generation and selection of materials and data that can readily be used for practice.
  • Digitized - Text and multimedia material are available online.
  • Open - Any copyrightable work is licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute.
  • Applied - Non-theoretical, practical, work-based and experience validated material.
  • Vetted - Professionals within a community have a mechanism to establish the value and validity of the content.
  • Standards - Assure interoperability and data exchange among different products or services.