Co-creating pedagogies for knowledge building in rural, regional and remote schools

Year: 2019

Author: Maton, Karl, Howard, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Knowledge building is critical to the aims of education. The Australian Curriculum states that all young Australians should learn how to ‘create new ideas and translate them into practical applications’ and ‘move across subject disciplines to develop new expertise’ (ACARA 2013: 14). However, not all young Australians are learning these abilities. Two major problems facing rural, regional and remote (RRR) schooling are: teacher support and training; and metro-centric educational policies. First, it is widely accepted in research, reviews and policy documents that RRR teachers need greater access to pedagogic support and professional learning opportunities. Second, scholars of RRR education forcefully argue that metro-centric assumptions underpinning policies lead to the imposition of practices at odds with the needs, perspectives and voices of rural Australia. Put together, these two issues highlight the need to support teachers in RRR schools to develop knowledge building pedagogies that are appropriate to their own ‘place’, their classrooms, and their students. However, doing so has been made difficult by the geographically dispersed nature of RRR schools and the very specificity and diversity of ‘places’. What may work in one context may not be appropriate elsewhere – and there are many different places, classrooms, and types of students.

In this paper we set forward a new methodology for the study and development of RRR-based knowledge building pedagogies that utilises the affordances of new digital technologies for engaging with distributed and large data sets and a theoretical framework that reveals the nature of knowledge building in specific contexts. Specifically, the methodology involves capturing teaching and learning processes through audiovisual recordings of long stretches of learning using a ‘low-disturbance video’ system. This innovative technology enables researchers and teachers to collaboratively build datasets far beyond the logistical capacity of traditional methods. We discuss how these datasets can then be analysed using data science methods to reveal contextually-specific patterns. We introduce how Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), a widely-used framework for analysing and shaping practice, can then reveal the nature of knowledge building in different classroom contexts. Crucially, data science methods are inductive and LCT is substantively ‘empty’ in the sense of not bringing predetermined assumptions as to what constitutes successful knowledge building. We argue that these offer a way of overcoming scattered, limited studies and interventions without imposing universalistic (and often metro-centric) practices by allowing collaboratively co-created practices that place contextually-relevant principles of knowledge building in the hands of educators and students.