“School leaders are critical in reforming education. While teachers have the most immediate in-class impact on student achievement, growing evidence suggests that effective leaders are indispensable in turning around low performing schools,” suggests the report, Structured Development of School Leadership by Central Square Foundation1. However, studies reveal that schools across the world are plagued by ineffective management and leadership practices.
Recent research by Bloom et al. (2015)2 suggests there is a link between poor learning and weak principals. The authors, Nick Bloom and colleagues at Stanford University collected data on management practices in more than 1,800 secondary schools in eight countries, including India. They found higher management quality is strongly associated with better educational outcomes, which points to the critical role school leaders play in student learning. Sadly, Indian schools were ranked at the very bottom with respect to management quality.
Resolving this challenge of empowering school leadership led to the setting-up of ShikshaLokam. In the first article of the 2 part series on Transforming School Leadership, we have elaborated the inspiration for ShikshaLokam’s pursuit of reforming education by positively strengthening the link between learning and school leadership. In this article, we will explore how ShikshaLokam is endeavoring on building the capacity of school leaders far from the conventional models of training to a sustainable developmental model that addresses the contextual needs of each leader.
Co-creation is at the core
ShikshaLokam is an open source digital platform endeavoring to enable and amplify leadership development opportunities for leaders in the education system at scale to thereby drive systemic transformation. The platform is interactive and imagines its capabilities by keeping the learner in the centre. Being an open source platform, it promotes collaboration between different stakeholders and sharing of best practices. ShikshaLokam relies heavily on co-creative efforts at many different layers, with different actors. As partners collaborate on the platform, they create content that can be contextualised by others including education leaders and other organisations operating in the same domain in another geography, who in turn contribute back through their iterations and feedback requests. At the core of it all is a digital infrastructure layer that enables this cycle to flourish. It’s collaborative with, contextualised to and contributive toward every stakeholder involved.
Co-creation is also a regenerative and exponential process. More interactions between actors on the platform begets more trust between actors and increases trust in the approach. This creates a positive feedback loop, with more partners becoming engaged and invested in creating content, designing improvement programmes and more education leaders taking advantage of modularized content and reference programmes (and sharing their insights and feedback to create more relevant approaches).
Co-creating by onboarding ‘Missions’ to transform Education Leadership
There are several non-profit organisations in the country that are working in the space of capacity development of education leadership and driving Systemic Education Transformation. Each of these NGOs has its own mission call, theory of change and tailor-made programmes that identify and work towards solving problems of leadership crisis in the education system. They need to scale their programmes to create impact with speed and quality in order to enable large-scale transformation. ShikshaLokam identified the alignment and adopted it as a strategic objective to enable these organisations meet their scale objectives by offering technological capabilities on the platform aligned to their programmatic needs.
ShikshaLokam has a strong partner network of 30 organisations across the country. Among these, five programmes have been identified to start the co-design and co-creation journey with. In the effort to re-imagine the programmes on the platform, need for technological capabilities emerge. In the process, several ‘reusable’ solutions and reusable assets (knowledge, process and data) would get developed that would be beneficial for other actors in the ecosystem.
Being an interactive digital platform that intrinsically nurtures collaboration with different stakeholders in the school education network including leaders themselves, ShikshaLokam aims to enable and amplify learning opportunities for school leaders. By providing access to contextual knowledge assets, by encouraging professional learning communities across borders and by collaborating at large-scale, it intends to co-create high impact, systemic change for the education sector.
This article includes excerpts from a paper submitted for IIMB Future of Learning Conference 2019 titled, School Leadership Matters – Transforming Education through Societal Platform, authored by Khushboo Awasthi, Tanisha Kedia, Aishwarya Rastogi and Sahana Jose.
- The Economic Journal: Does Management Matter in Schools by Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun and John Van Reenen
- Structured Development of School Leadership by Central Square Foundation