Deeper professional learning

(This is a guest post from DLMOOC participant, Emma Scott, Senior Project Officer, Learning Frontiers, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.)

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The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) has initiated a project focused on deepening student engagement in learning, supported by the Innovation Unit (UK).

We know that education must equip all young people with the knowledge, understanding, skills and values they need to achieve and be successful. But it should also instil the desire, skills and capacities to learn continuously, so every young person can take advantage of opportunities and face today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenges with confidence.
If successful learners are lifelong learners who are involved in and take responsibility for their learning, then our task is to create an education system that ensures all young Australians are deeply engaged in learning – at school, and throughout their lives.

Learning Frontiers is a collaborative initiative created to transform learning so that every learner succeeds in an education worth having. AITSL’s vision for Learning Frontiers is that all young Australians emerge from school as curious, creative, confident and engaged lifelong learners.

The project will bring together clusters of schools and other interested parties – ‘design hubs’ – to develop professional practices that increase student engagement in learning, alongside tools and resources to support the scaling and diffusion of new practices outside of the hub.

Design hubs will use a range of methodologies to explore teaching, learning and assessment practices that are built upon four design principles. These principles assert that when learning is highly engaging it is…


The initiative is:

  • A large scale collaborative enquiry, drawing on the collective wisdom, experience, ambition and imagination of participants to develop professional practice that increases students’ engagement in learning. Teachers themselves will construct the new knowledge the education community needs to move the professional practice of every Australian teacher forward.
  • High quality professional learning for participants in and out of design hubs who, as individuals and in groups, are likely to reconfigure their practice – leadership and pedagogic – iteratively and over time as they observe the benefits of students’ increased engagement in learning. Teachers will learn from each other, from experts and others deeply interested in learning that engages learners behaviourally, emotionally and cognitively.
  • A system level intervention, explicitly intended to stimulate the growth of new relationships between schools, and between schools and new partners: families, communities, for- and non-profit organisations and public services amongst others. These new arrangements – design hubs – are geared to and formed for the purpose of increasing students’ engagement in learning, for instance by extending learning environments and opportunities beyond the classroom, and for connecting in-school learning with the outside, ‘real world’, of students’ lives.
  • A scaling and diffusion program, designed to enable professional practice that increases student engagement in learning to spread beyond the design hub where the practice originates, to benefit students in developer schools; students whose schools are not taking part; and even students who don’t go to school at all.

Today, education systems face immense challenges, but the opportunities, tools, and potential partners exceed anything we have encountered in the past. Excellence in professional practice and an education ecosystem that collaborates, learns together and supports each other to expand and develop is our ambitious aspiration.

If you would like to know more about Learning Frontiers you can…