Knowledge transfer in school-to-school collaborations: the position of boundary objects and brokers

Article English OPEN
Nordholm, Daniel (2016)
  • Publisher: Education Inquiry
  • Journal: Education Inquiry (issn: 2000-4508)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/edui.v7.28013
  • Subject: community of practice, design, curriculum implementation, educational change, temporary organisation

This article reports findings from a case study carried out in a Swedish municipality focusing on a school-to-school collaboration established to support implementation of a nation-wide curriculum. The aim was to study how ideas for improvements in this temporary organisation were transferred to the local schools. The findings presented are derived from audio-recordings (n=13) and semi-structured interviews (n=21). Community of practice theory and the concepts of boundary objects and brokering guided the analysis work. The results revealed that, generally, transfer was restricted to boundary objects with a closed character, meaning these objects should be distributed to and unpacked in the local schools without further dialogues and modifications. In addition, non-formal brokers had less capacity to extend and lead improvement processes in local schools. This approach also reduced the possibilities for principals and teachers in the local schools to benefit from more advanced learning discussions and understandings developed in the temporary organisation. The article shows that designers of improvement work must consider boundary objects with a more open-ended character, permitting an innovative interpretation and learning process. Finally, in this process the findings also reveal the importance of formal brokers underpinning a transfer process in which both participation and reification are considered.Keywords: community of practice, design, curriculum implementation, educational change, temporary organisation(Published: 5 December 2016)Citation: Education Inquiry (EDUI) 2016, 7, 28013, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/edui.v7.28013
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