Joint learning creates development
Four target areas are identified in AcadeMedia’s strategy document, Roadmap 2023. The first reads ‘Leading at learning’. Learning through teaching. Learning as a student. Or learning from your own experiences and those of others. Roadmap 2023 states: “Leading at learning is not just about achieving results in terms of factual knowledge and values. It is also about AcadeMedia as a whole needing to be at the forefront as an organisation, and having effective professional development.”
Central collegial learning
“Our most important contribution to creating a learning organisation is our collective initiative in collegial learning at all levels. The introduction of networks and various collaborative forums with opportunities to share knowledge and experience, which means we become better at our jobs,” says Ingela Gullberg, Head of Quality at AcadeMedia.
Collegial learning fuels AcadeMedia’s development work. In simplified terms, it is about various skills development initiatives in which employees, through organised cooperation, acquire new skills and insights that they can use to make improvements in their own work.
Critically examining, analysing and evaluating their work alongside others makes for an organisation that is constantly improving. “In the past, the education sector has been regarded as inflexible and conservative, and there has certainly been some truth in that view. But things are very different now, with both managers and employees being more open and sharing their experiences, and discussing their strengths and weaknesses with others,” says Ingela Gullberg.
Our size creates opportunities
Owing to its size, AcadeMedia is in a good position to pursue development issues and find ways for the structured exchange of experiences on a large scale. “The unique thing about us is that we have such breadth and diversity, from preschools to adult education. We’re talking about some 30 different education companies that have come together under one roof as a Group,” explains Ingela Gullberg. “But in order to be a learning organisation, we also need a culture and a structure that allows us to pursue systematic quality management work, with leaders who push for improvements and employees who systematically enhance their way of working. And it’s important that all this is done with a student-centred approach,” she adds.
Everyone to achieve their goals
The Groupwide target for ‘Leading at learning’ is for children, students and adult learners to achieve their goals for each level of school. In other words, 100% – everyone achieves their goals.
In order to accomplish this, teaching quality throughout all AcadeMedia’s operations needs to be continuously evaluated and developed. Some of the methods used include observations, auscultations, internal inspections, surveys and self-evaluation. Self-evaluation involves various ways of providing feedback
to teachers and reflecting on what could be further improved in teaching approaches to better respond to student needs. And for regular internal inspections, we look at the opportunities that emerge for what we call collegial learning.
“The reason we have such a strong focus on learning is that we know quality of teaching and employees’ opportunities for professional development are pivotal to the experience for our children, students and adult learners,” says Ingela Gullberg.
“If we are to achieve better results in Sweden’s schools, we don’t just need learning students but also learning teachers, learning school leaders and learning education providers.”
Leaders who enthuse and convey vision
One prerequisite for creating the learning organisation that Ingela Gullberg is talking about is to have all leaders on board. They need to be good role models, have knowledge of, and demand systematic improvement work.
Furthermore, leaders need to believe in and convey a shared vision that enthuses employees.
“It’s important for leaders to encourage initiative and allow people to fail. Development
doesn’t happen unless people try new things. And much can be learned from making mistakes as well, so there must be a culture of allowing failure. But it’s important to learn from these mistakes and not sweep them under the carpet,” says Ingela Gullberg.
Structured exchange of experiences on a broad front
AcadeMedia is sitting on a vast amount of knowledge capital. The combined know-how and experience of almost 17,000 employees is huge. At the same time, the company and its employees are not an island.
“The fact that we are such a large, multi-faceted organisation means we have a great deal to learn from one another internally. To paraphrase a quote that is actually about the company Siemens: ‘If only AcadeMedia knew what AcadeMedia knows’.
“But we also need to be inquisitive and open, and share with the research community, external expertise and colleagues in the education sector, both independent and municipal. We have such a lot to learn from one another,” says Ingela Gullberg.
Ingela Gullberg’s three top tips for creating a learning organisation
- Invest heavily in leaders at various levels. Without good leaders, it is hard to get things in place.
- Take control of the calendar and agenda to create and plan ideas and forums for regular meetings within and between professions, where learning and structured exchange of experiences are the focus.
- Work to create a safe workplace where showing your strengths and weaknesses is OK, and encouraged. It is about practising what you preach.