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MLP or just Effective Pedagogy

Started by Neill O'Reilly 09 Sep 2015 4:56pm () Replies (64)

I am keen to find out if anyone can define MLP and if we can't, perhaps ditch the term and just talk about effective pedagogy?

Can anyone give us a succinct definition of what Modern Learning Practice / Modern Learning Pedagogies are?

Can't be about technology- not that modern (they were part of the rationale for the move to open plan units in the 1960's)

Can't be about student centred learning... being around for ever!

Can't be about having a shared vision, values and beliefs...they are not pedagogies or practices

Is it about preparing children for their future- I think thats just part of our day to day job (effective pedagogy?)

If it is about pedagogies I am wondering if there are some new modern pedagogies I am missing?

Perhaps it is about Collaborative teaching? If so lets call it that. But that seems confusing because you can go on a course to do MLP in a traditional classroom?

Be cool if it was about culturally inclusive practice (that's quite modern) but I don't think it is?

I suppose my concern is;  Have we created a new acronym for something when perhaps there is no need and it just adds to the confusion of MLE, ILE, ILS, FLS...MLP? Perhaps more importantly teachers are been led to think there is a new pedagogy or a 'modern learning practice' that is required to teach in a flexible learning space as opposed to a classroom

Really keen for some feedback....



  • Geoff Siave (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 5:56pm ()

    Kia ora Neill

    I've always been reluctant to use the term "MLE"  (and "MLP" and "ILE") as they all intimate a formulaic "way" of being. You'd need to ask what is the key in each of those acronyms?  

    modern? - well, by definition that is a a temporary  label.  At best it is describes an evolving innovation.  The term "innovative" is a temporary title which lasts only until it's been replicated a few times.  

    Neither modern nor innovative go any way toward describing anything about the pedagogy except that it's recent.

    I've been using "collaborative" as it goes at least part way to describing the essence of the teaching and learning philosophy we are seeing as key. 


  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 6:43pm ()

    I know what you mean Geoff, but I think that its perspective.  

    ILE's (innovative learning environment) doesn't just mean the physical beanbags, couches or leaners.  Its encompasses so much more.  Its the place students come to learn.  Its the place where relationships are developed and fertilised, its the place where learning is not only collaborative but innovative, where students passions are developed and enhanced so that they can use this to learn more about themselves, as well as becoming resilient, creative and communicative.

    Our principal doesn't like the 'P' word, (pedagogy) and I totally get why.  Speaking to Neill's comments about collaboration, yeah it is way more than that.  It is hard to describe, so i'll portray what our leadership team has been through this and last week.   (as well as many months before)

    We have developed a new vision, and with that comes key drivers, programmes and initiatives that we will either start, or continue that meet our vision.  For example we have worked on::

    'learning powers' - that enable us to become better learners.  Things like -  being me  - curiosity  -  resilience  -  connectivity.

    This is one key initiative out of many for us... these powers are essential in learning, so are key in our lives.  So I guess what I think I'm getting at, is that I think MLE's  (insert a thousand other acronyms here) are about empowering students to become better learners for their future....  Now this is a simple statement, but we need to take into account so many subjective factors for each student, which I think is where it becomes complicated to apply a singular definition.

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 8:12pm ()

    Thanks Hamish,

    ...and there is the challenge. The seven principles of an ILE represent a way of teaching in a flexible learning space or a classroom. The term ILE has little to do with space or furniture rather it echoes our NZC.

    Isn't teaching about empowering our students? Quality teaching, effective pedagogy, no matter what space (building) we are in?

    I totally agree effective pedagogy (and having a school live and breathe the NZC) is more than collaboration but, and this is a big but, isn't the significant difference between a traditional classroom (lets call them an autonomous teaching and learning environment) and a flexible learning space the ability for teachers to teach collaboratively (that is create a collaborative teaching and learning environment) so that our children will have improved learning outcomes, hauora and self regulation? 

    I am stoked schools are doing so much to try to get closer to the essence, vision, values of NZC, really awesome!- but that can and will (should) happen in schools with both traditional classrooms and flexible learning spaces.  Our opportunity in a flexible learning space (MoE called these MLE's for a time and now ILE's- we will save that misuse of an outstanding publication to name buildings for a future thread!) is both teacher and student collaboration, especially collaborative teaching and collaborative learning.

    Perhaps I could put this another way: 

    What is possible in a Flexible Learning Space that we could not do in a traditional classroom?                      (forget the terms MLE and ILE these are spaces or buildings we are getting until we do something with them- that is create the 'learning environment')

    How do we maximise this opportunity for our staff, children and communities?

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 7:51pm ()

    I agree Geoff, Collaborative is spot on and therefor how to enable our collaborative teaching and ability is perhaps what we should put some energy into?


  • Bernice Swain (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 9:10pm ()

    I don't know about the appropriate name for MLP; but for me there are some essential elements of MLP which may differ from pre 21st Century "best practice". These include:- self-regulated learning, student centred programmes and individualised programmes, collaborative teaching, ubiquitous use of technology and 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' learning. 

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 09 Sep 2015 9:47pm ()

    Thanks Bernice, we are close but not there yet...

    The only thing in your list that was more difficult pre 21C was "ubiquitous use of technology and 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' learning." and pre flexible learning spaces was 'collaborative teaching' (if we exclude the open plan era)

    However, 'ubiquitous use of technology and 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' learning.' can happen in a traditional class better than in a flexible learning space with the right teacher so that has little to do with the new spaces/ environments we are now able to work in. 

    Still leaves me wondering what MLP is...

    Collaborative teaching ?


  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 7:51am ()

    Hi all.

    I agree that MLP is not a particularly helpful term for defining what we are talking about but I wonder whether just talking about effective pedagogy will allow some level of dismissiveness ( is that a word?) of the effective implementation of a flexible learning programme that includes more than one teacher being directly responsible for overseeing the learning of 40, 50, 60ish children. 

    Ubiquitous use of technology was only more difficult pre 21C because of cost and technological capacity of things like wireless networks and connectivity speed. Anytime, anyplace learning was (and continues to be) only difficult because of supervision requirements. Not so easy for schools to allow children to go off unsupervised to learn in different places. Technology does go someway to facilitating this as an increased possibility though. 

    I think Bernice has identified the key elements from a student perspective. Self regulation and individualised programme (with increased student choice) are the challenge for teachers to design learning programmes around. Really the tricky bit in all this from a teacher perspective is how is the timetable organised and what learning activities will students be required to do? The first part of that is a structural or systems question and the second is pedagogy. 

    Collaborative or team teaching is a significant part of what is different. Team teaching has been around for quite a while now and there are numerous examples around the country of schools successfully operating teams of two teachers sharing the collective responsibility for a two class group of learners. The challenge that many of us are facing is what does that look like at the practical level of classroom timetable, physical organisation of spaces and student learning activities when the spaces have to house three or four or ten adults and 80, 90, 100, 200 etc children. There are starting to be examples of this being done well though. 

    I am not sure that I agree with you Neill that ubiquitous technology and anytime, anywhere learning can happen better in a traditional one teacher classroom. I think what both ubiquitous technology and more adults available for learning support does is increases the possibility for individualised learning support. Please don't misinterpret this though. I am not talking about children learning in isolation with the perfect ideal being 1:1 child to teacher interaction. I believe strongly in co-construction of learning. What we have now is the challenge for teachers of sharing the responsibility for a larger group of learners than just "my class" and of sharing a space and a timetable when I can't just decide on my own but I have to communicate and collaborate. 

    What three letter abbreviation to give all this I have no idea. What about ECT.. Effective Collaborative Teaching. Or the other definition if you prefer... 


  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 8:09am ()

    Yep I understand your concern about effective pedagogy being able to be dismissed as being 'done' in a traditional classroom with no collaboration (I think some high profile NZ school's would argue they do this to justify a teacher centric approach in traditional classrooms...). I suppose that is the main thrust of my thread. What people take to be MLP is surly about unlocking the creative, collegial and intellectual benefits of teacher collaboration and collaborative teaching?

    You rightly point out collaborative teaching (team teaching/ co-teaching) is not modern (being ongoing in some form or other formally since 1959 in primary schools in particular) so perhaps we need to do a lot more to understand "Effective Collaborative Teaching" if we really want to maximise the potential and magic of the power of two or more?


  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 12:39pm ()

    What people take to be MLP is surly about unlocking the creative, collegial and intellectual benefits of teacher collaboration and collaborative teaching?

    You have it there I think...

    and with the following...

    every thing in the NZC (the principles, KC's effective pedagogy, values, teacher as inquiry etc) and then put it on steroids through collaboration.


  • Paul Irving (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 8:14am ()

    Hi all. Long time listener first time caller!

    Thanks Neill and others I have really been enjoying the discussions. I believe that the NZC is a fantastic document and incorporates everything that we want to see happening in our schools and classrooms.  It allows us to be responsive to the needs of our learners and has a clear outline of what effective pedagogy is. We are in danger in this information age of over complicating everything and being drowned information that if it is of high quality it is really saying the same thing. This can lead to people losing focus, chasing the next "new" thing or feeling guilt that they aren't doing x, y or z . As educators we have to be very discerning about what we utilise and have a shared clear understanding of what we want for our outcomes for our learners and what effective pedagogy actually is. Any research or initiatives etc we look at must add value to this not distract from it. 

    If I was forced to define MLP I would start with traditional teaching being chalk and talk and delivering a curriculum with no thought of the learner. Did this ever happen? I have memories of some teachers like this but the more effective teachers built very strong relationships, scaffolded learning , made it engaging etc etc even thirty years ago. MLP would be everything else that has added to effective pedagogy from there on in. So as others have said effective pedagogy or MLP has evolved over a large period of time and there was no flick of the switch.  One of the better outlines of this by Fullan can be read here  

    All of the discussions on here have definitely helped me gain more clarity on all of the above. 


  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 10:43am ()

    Welcome first time caller!

    While I have the utmost respect for Michael Fullan, what he refers to as 'New pedagogies' were some of the major drivers toward the open plan movement of 1959-1980's. In 1993 Brooks & Brooks wrote "In search of Understanding; The case for the constructivist classroom" (Perry Rush put me onto this book- well worth owning) which covers deep learning. Dewey was challenging educators to go deeper during his era (pre 1950's).

    Fullan also considers feedback as central to New pedagogies- again well documents by many NZ researchers- especially Nuthall in "The Hidden Lives of Learners" (this is a 'must own' book!). 

    What could be said for Fullan's publication is given his mana internationally his support for an effective pedagogical approach (which he calls New Pedagogies) might challenge NZ educators to take another real good look at NZC plus support our move to collaborative teaching?

    I am still not seeing much difference between MLP from what is in the NZC , perhaps another concern with the term is, if the practices are modern in 2015 what will they be in 2017- "Old?" 

    I'm still learning toward Paul's idea of "Effective Collaborative Teaching" really that should encompass every thing in the NZC (the principles, KC's effective pedagogy, values, teacher as inquiry etc) and then put it on steroids through collaboration!

  • Derek Wenmoth (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2015 12:48pm ()

    Just picked the reference here to Cuban's work, Neill - definitely correct in terms of the educational thought leader's drive for open spaces - but usurped by the political demand for testing etc. 

    Re your comment about MLP and NZC - I'm not sure (a) there needs to be a difference or (b) if there needs to be there is one. MLP is a conceptually broad idea that was around when the NZC was envisoned and developed - and that's what we have to celebrate in NZ, the permission we have through the NZC to pursue the ideals of MLP in ways that are much more aligned with the policy and assessment regimes that underpin it. Problem is that, by and large, we don't. Seems to me that's the root cause of so much angst - as Argyris and Schon call it - the gap between espoused theory and theory in practice. 

  • Linda Baran (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 9:39pm ()

    I agree Paul.  It's a tricky subject and maybe we just need to think about best practice.  (Can we just use BP as an acronym???).  And, we probably can't go wrong by thinking that NZC has done a pretty good job of defining best practice. Was involved in a Twitter chat recently where someone said that most people only use the back half of the NZC, and made the comment that it's quite unusual to start reading a great piece of literature in the middle of the book.

    The next discussion point would be who's to say what is best practice? I would define it as teaching and learning alongside the students based on a programme that's as personalised as possible which fosters critical and creative thinking, covers a broad base of learning areas in contexts as authentic as possible. Add in effective use of IT to support this, and it also makes sense to teach collaboratively as students will benefit from collective genius with teachers who are constantly coaching each other throughout the day. Throw in a bit of entrepreneurship, a strong focus on KCs and partnerships with communities outside of the school.

    As Neill said - not too different from pedagogy suggested years ago.  I do like what comes out n the Horizon reports every year, which are far more aligned to what we would consider as 'future-focused'.

  • AndrewWilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 11:03am ()

    Kia ora team.

    Great discussions and like Paul Irving I have been watching, reading and up skilling myself via the conversations.

    The acronyms are starting to do my head in :-)  The sector seems to be looking at what we call or name what is/has been happening in our schools or what schools are moving towards.  For me it essentially boils down to the fact that we want the highest quality teaching and learning programmes possible.  We want to use meta analysis that has been done around collaborative teaching, the impact of quality feedback, use of digital devices etc. etc. and create within our schools, systems and structures that will make a difference. The Australian toolkits have been a wonderful resource, as is Hatties work.  The research shows us what to best utilise, we must take this knowledge and make it work in our community.  Our environments allow this to happen much more easily but one could argue that without the "ideal" physical environment such strategies can and are still being implemented effectively.

    A bit abstract but I  quite liked the way Anne Knock and Stephen Harris from the Sydney centre for innovative learning have shaped their environments by naming spaces after prominent parts of the world e.g manhattan to describe a highly active space used by many.  I think taking into account our cultural narrative and using this to name spaces which connect to the school and its history are more significant.  Then we can focus on what happens inside, outside and around these spaces as opposed to fancy acronyms :-)


    Debut post complete, look forward to more discussions.




  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 11:54am ()

    Hi Andrew,

    Welcome in to the chat! We really don't lack research do we!

    Yep acronyms for Africa- MLE, ILE, ILS, FLS, DQLS, MLP....(these are all real!!!)

    You are onto it, we really want to be creating quality learning environments using every tool we can.

    Regarding design: Our new school is designed with that cultural framework in mind you mentioned- have a look at the "fly through"


  • AndrewWilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 1:22pm ()

    Cheers Neill.


    Enjoyed the fly over and the work that has gone into preparing these new environments...very envious of elements.  We are at the developed design phase of our  " moderate re development" and I am really excited by what we are going to be able to achieve with a modest budget.  Our space will certainly be open enough to achieve high quality teaching and learning - HQTL  :-)

    I am very curious about how the New Entrants are being organised in these new spaces, there seems to be a lot of people who believe multi level works well in the junior school, inclusive of NE's and also a raft of people who feel that they need to have their own space (at least for part of the day)

    Any comments re the NE/Junior hub configuration or articles would be greatly appreciated.


  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 2:56pm ()

    Seems to vary depending on the size of the school Andrew,

    In some cases schools have:

    • A dedicated transition to school place where children first arrive at and as their KC's and social / emotional stages advance they then progressively transition to a fully collaborative and multi grade level
    • Others have straight into the space with children of a range of ages
    • Others have a space for their "new Entrants" for a pre determined amount of time

    Some things to consider:

    Would moving onto to a space with older children actually assist with the transition as they can be assisted by others?

    How do we assure parents (and ourselves) we are doing an adequate job of getting to know new entrants and determining their needs and helping them to the transition to the structure and organisation of school?

    What competencies, skills, interactions are we looking to see in place to allow them to function confidently in our environment and how do we communicate these to the child and the family/ whanau?

  • Stuart Priddy (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 1:36pm ()

    Really enjoy reading all the comments.  Our dilemma is in our junior school.  We have worked on 8 teams of 2 teachers this year (Yr 7/8, Yr 5/6, Yr 2/3/4 and NE / Yr2).  Because we had a large group of yr 2's they had to be split.  Looking at the same for next year and whether best to keep the NE separate for a while.  Any thoughts?

  • Greg Carroll (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 3:37pm ()

    Hi everyone

    Great discussion .... really enjoying the thinking and the links etc being shared too.  Short answer to much of what you are saying and is evolving in this thread is yes in my head.  

    I do like the MLE term though .... simply because of what modern means.  Modern by definition is 'fit for today' or 'fit for our times'.  I would hope that any pedagogy (or the physical space for that matter) is the best it can be based on what we know 'best' is, and also is agile enough to still maintain 'best-ness' over time.  Thats what defines the modern bit, and also demands of us that it is the best it can be.

    We know a lot about learning and what is most effective  - from Nuthall, BES, OECD, and the whole rest of the fruit salad of acronyms of groups who have explored effective learning at the biological level through to what we can do to influence and make it most effective at the pedagogical level.  We know how to influence and control the physical environment in terms of acoustics, lighting etc to maximise learning potential and also what buildings need to be like and how they need to 'behave' to support these things.  We know the fundamental magnifying effect of collaboration on teaching practice (where 2>1+1 for teacher effectiveness).

    In my head MLE's come at the intersection of all this knowledge and are the point where we take the cocktail of understanding this knowledge gives us and put it into practice to 'give effect' to the NZC.  

    cheers, Greg

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 4:18pm ()

    If MLE was so good why has it been dropped?

    Bottom line is the MoE don't build Environments- they build buildings (spaces- most recently Flexible learning Spaces) It is what people do with the spaces that make them environments. That is why they should not be MLE's or ILE's (Innovative Learning Environments). ILE is a set of principles that must all be present for an environment to be innovative according to the OECD. There will be many Flexible Learning Spaces in NZ and internationally that are not ILE's, there will be some classrooms that are ILE's

    Hasn't the introduction of the terms MLE, now ILE, ILS, FLS and MLP just confused people? I hear people talking about MLP and I see them writing about MLP and yet it seems MLP cannot be defined and is suggesting to teachers their pedagogy needs to change- if it does then go back to the NZC.

    How about this:


    Aren't they just Classrooms or Flexible Learning Spaces?

    Teaching and learning:

    Isn't it just Effective Pedagogy...either autonomously or collaboratively? (lets not make it EP!!!)

    The Learning Environment

    1. An Autonomous Teaching and learning Environment (one teacher alone doing the work)..or...

    2. A Collaborative Teaching and Learning Environment (two or more teachers,collaboratively teaching)

    I suggest these distinctions because you can teach autonomously in a flexible learning space (but why would you!) and you can collaboratively teach in a classroom (just a lot harder) Ideally we would want to see Collaborative teaching and learning in a Flexible learning Space, with effective pedagogy!

    One of the reasons for my question is there will be many schools in NZ that still have 'classrooms' for a very very long time- in-fact they may never totally disappear, what do MLP's mean to them (although there are courses to do MLP in a traditional classroom...)

    Lets put it another way, What's missing from the NZC that means we have to create a new term?


  • Paul Irving (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 5:29pm ()

    Haven't got too much W.O.R.K done today as head is spinning. I agree if we could all just stick to the terminology and understandings in the NZC- Principles, Effective Pedagogy, etc etc and research that adds value to our understanding of this there would be far more clarity across NZ. Collaboration should add value to this. The buildings are just that buildings and are at varying stages of being Modern/Fexible across NZ. It is what is happening in them that is important. Although they can obviously add huge value to the learning (loved the fly over).

    Angus Mc Farlane was speaking at the NZPF conference this year about the educultural wheel and at the end he posed the question "isn't it just effective pedagogy?" His reply to his own question, "Yeah na, definitely" Classic!

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 6:01pm ()

    Love it Paul,

    Angus is right!

  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 6:49pm ()

    So now what I am wondering is...  if you were writing a "how to book of effective collaborative teaching" what would the chapter headings be? 

    Here is my humble offering...

    Forming mutually agreed expectations (things that will annoy you and how to resolve them)

    Who is teaching who and when (timetabling options)

    Reflection for deeper learning (ideas for establishing habits of reflection that genuinely change future learning)

    Metacognition in practice ( teaching children how to be learners)

    Ideas for creatively organising the spaces (campfire, caves and furniture etc)

    The question as key technology (unpacking inquiry learning)

    What does agency look like and how to enable it. (How to say yes to children)

    101 ideas for connecting learners with real life experiences (deeper learning rather than coverage)

    Integrated curriculum (what if I didn't teach maths this week?)

    Who are the people in my neighbourhood? (How to find people who can help)


    There we go... That is just to prompt discussion. What have I got wrong? What have I missed out?






  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 8:43pm ()

    I particularly liked your last line Paul!

    I think we might be getting into the key stuff here

    #1 What does a student centred / learning focused environment really look, sound and feel like?

    #2 What does effective collaborative teaching look, sound and feel like?

    Just to be clear this is not MLP- this is effective pedagogy and effective collaborative teaching.

    My challenge is:

    1. If we don't know what effective pedagogy and we are keen to be collaborative teaching is we are in the same position as our colleagues in 1959. They had to consider:

    Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 8.07.21 pm.png
    If we have effective pedagogy sussed then we just have between one and three things to consider:
    Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 8.06.46 pm.png
    Where are we at in 2015?
    If we already have an understanding of effective pedagogy and the principle, values, vision and KC's of the NZC then arguably teachers will need to consider how to use a flexible space effectively, how to thrive in a de privatised space and then how to create an effective collaborative teaching environment. This last bit is incredibly complex as Paul suggests. 
    Where do we put our energy?
    Perhaps figure out if we really understand effective pedagogy (it is the foundation for all that we do) and then as we do see how collaborative teaching can enhance it to improve the learning outcomes, self regulation and hauora of our children.
    I have changed "Team Teaching" to "Collaborative Teaching" because the research about Team Teaching is really not what we are doing in NZ (that's another whole discussion)

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