32 SES 13 A, Innovating Educational Systems: Cross-National Studies in Organizational Education.
This presentation reports the organisational learning developed within a division of a New Zealand university through arranging and conducting a series of tailor-made specialised short courses for teachers and students of various overseas universities and educational organisations. It particularly considers a course with students of a Chinese university in early 2020, where the students came to New Zealand, and course with a teachers and educational administrators in the Philippines in early 2021, which took place on line. The presentation aligns with the Networks call for papers that address both contradictions and chances for development within organisational learning.
Three separate organisations are involved in the planning and arrangement of each of these courses. The same academic division in the New Zealand university was involved in both cases. In the first case the partner was a Chinese University and in the second a professional development agency in the Philippines. A New Zealand based Chinese agent brokered the first contract and a New Zealand Ministerial department organised and funded the second contract. Not only does each organisation have different visions, employment relationships and regulatory conditions but they are also located in very different socio-political, linguistic and cultural contexts.
Apart from expected initial difficulties with government permissions (from the Chinese side) and visas (from the New Zealand side) and discussions about costs and numbers of participating students, formal agreements are fairly readily reached between the organisations. However, in both cases there were a range of tensions in the expectations of teachers and participants that became evident. In the first case descriptions of course content and detailed daily timetables had been agreed in advance but members of the organisational and teaching team of the New Zealand university repeatedly find that the Chinese course participants come with very different expectations from the nominated learning outcomes, Their professional backgrounds and English language proficiency also are sometimes quite different from those originally described. In the second course the Philippines agency had made only a rudimentary selection of topic and content suggested by the New Zealand University and further negotiations had to be carried out during the on-line programme. Language was not a problem with this course but the online process brought a range of challenges.
This presentation reports the organisational learning that occurs within the New Zealand university team as it tackles linguistic and cultural differences and seeks to deliver a programme that is relevant to the course participants as well as aligning ( to some significant degree) with the negotiated plan and with their own professional competencies and standards.
The metaphor of a rollercoaster ride is adopted because of the often unpredictable and sometimes messy provocations that occur and the uncomfortable changes required in planning and in mental attitude in order to deliver programmes that make sense (to some significant degree) to both teachers and participants.
A presentation based on the Chinese contract was submitted and accepted for the cancelled ECER 2020. The material has been extended and updated to include the online case in 2021.
This is a qualitative case study. It draws, in the first instance, on a phenomenological approach (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009; van Manem, 2014) in that it focuses on reporting the understandings of the participants about their lived experiences. It then critically considers those understandings against frameworks for organisational learning, such has those developed by Lave and Wenger, Weick, Argyris and Schön, and Senge. The planning, delivery and evaluation of two separate courses (one in 2020, and one in 2021) are investigated. The main body of data is gathered from five key members of the team dealing with international courses in the New Zealand university as the study focuses on learning that occurs within that team, The data comes from reflective observations written by members of that team and in open-ended interviews with them. Additional data is gathered from correspondence with the other organisations involved, and from semi-structured interviews with members of the participating student groups. The initial analysis of data follows the precepts of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). It then further analyses the themes that emerge against concepts of effective organisational learning developed by Weick (1995) and Senge (2006) respectively.
The three organisations involved in each case have different professional gaols and expectations. Communication was initially made complex because of distance, isolation or language .well as differences in understandings of educations goals and possibilities,. Reports from the course participants have been unequivocally positive. Cultural traditions of politeness and foreign relations policies may contribute to the positive reactions, However, participants also demonstrate satisfaction in their unsolicited comments, their body language and their interpersonal engagement. The two – separate- agents that have been involved have also indicated satisfaction, but both tended to offer regular suggestions of minor adjustments throughout the courses. The challenge for the New Zealand university is to ensure that the programme facilitates learning by the participants that is useful and meaningful (as best we can judge those factors). We are motivated to achieve this both in order to continue the business and also by our professional and ethical commitment to education. To achieve our goal we have needed to learn (and are still continuing to learn), as an organisational team, to be constantly flexible and adaptable. We have also had to learn to be receptive but cautiously responsive to suggestions by both the brokering agents and the course participants, We have also been forced to develop strong team communication and to shift leadership (of differing kinds) from one another as the context requires.
Argyris,C. and Schön, D. Organizational Learning: Theory, method and practice.(New York: Addison-Wesley, 1995 Greenwood J. (2019) Operational trust: Reflection from navigating control and trust in a cross-cultural professional development project. Educational Philosophy and Theory 51(1): 107-116. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991, Situating learning in communities of practice. Perspectives on socially shared cognition, 2, 63-82.) Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Broadway Business Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: theory, method and research, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Van Manen, M. (2014). Phenomenology of practice: Meaning-giving methods in phenomenological research and writing. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Weick, K. (1995). Sense-making in organizations. Newbury Park: Sage.
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