KMb Early Learning ResearchBest practices in early learning have a robust research base. The new Ontario Full-Day Kindergarten programme is underpinned by the recommendations from this research.

Project Category:
Building or extending networks for further research in priority areas
Topic Area:
Early Childhood, Elementary
Ministry Priority
Teaching and Learning
Project Lead(s):
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Brief Background:
Best practices in early learning have a robust research base. The new Ontario Full-Day Kindergarten programme is underpinned by the recommendations from this research. But within the normal structures of traditional professional development in education, there is little opportunity for sustained, in-depth, and active discourse on the research that is the foundation of new educational initiatives.
Research Context:
Wenger (1998) found that people need to have the opportunity to situate personal knowledge within the larger research sphere. The literature is fairly consistent in its call for professional development that allows for continuous ongoing discourse with peers and experts in the field over longer periods of time than often seen in most new educational initiatives (Cordingley, 2004; NSDC, 2009; Nutley, Percy-Smith, & Solesbury, 2003; Tarr et al., 2008; Thompson & Zeuli, 1999). OECTA’s (2010) own research with past collaborative learning communities shows that teachers found this mode of Professional Development the most helpful. In particular, they allow a discussion about the practical aspects of using new research-based practices. Through collaboration, ideas about how to realistically fit new practices into an already crowded instructional day can be jointly constructed. This often means finding ways that do not add more work, but instead make for a logical progression from previous practices to present best practices.
Knowledge Mobilization Activities:

This project mobilizes knowledge inherently as it creates six online forums of key experts in the field of early learning. The audience for the forums is a pilot group of 20 learning communities consisting of principals, teachers, and ECEs from the 2011 cohort of the Full Day Early Learning programme. Each forum will be a half day, and each month an expert in an area of early learning research (such as play-based learning) will be invited to present and lead a discussion with the pilot group. The online component will consist of a webinar type interaction with opportunity for two-way conversation between the expert and the participants. Between forums, participants collaborate on a social media site in which they can share ideas, materials, and other opportunities for further learning. The site will be a repository for the materials from the experts as well as videos of the session.

Furthermore, knowledge will continue to be mobilized after the initial project winds down in several ways: (1) through webcasts and materials made available to the members of CPCO and OECTA for use in workshops, conferences, and AQ courses ; (2) through modifying professional development strategies used by the partner organizations to accommodate what has been learned from the analysis of the participants’ responses to the online community; (3) through videotaped forums ; (4) conferences ; and (5) workshops .

The design of this project supports the mobilization of knowledge from experts in early learning to educators in the field. The project partners will be able to use the findings from this project to develop their own models of online professional learning for their members as new initiatives come forward from the Ministry of Education or elsewhere.