Collaboration at the Core of Contemporary Global Education Development

Kinnari Pandya emphasises the need for teaching and research on collaboration to bridge the gaps between education-research-practice, to build on global education development.

Kinnaris faculty perspective collaboration GINTL

The Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL) organised a hybrid symposium in the FERA (Finnish Educational Research Association) conference on 23– 24 November 2023 in Vaasa by Åbo Akademi University. The symposium titled Bridging education research, practice, and global education development’ brought together presenters from Ghana, Finland and India. 

The first presentation by Hannah Edjah, (PhD, University Lecturer, University of Ghana and University of Helsinki) was on Finnish and Ghanaian collaboration: Supporting sustainable futures in senior high schools and universities in Ghana’. The presentation elucidated various components of ongoing research on hybrid pedagogy for vocational education as an important subject area for high-school and senior school students in Ghana. 

It showcased the role of community experts in providing vocational education, use of technology and children’s learning portfolios as artefacts, and challenges of contextual hybrid pedagogy. 

The second presentation by Perttu Ervelius (Doctoral Student, University of Helsinki) titled Learning to design – Designing to Learn’ highlighted the research methodology followed in the project on STEM teaching-learning by three partnering universities – University of Helsinki (UH), Finland, University of Turku (UT), Finland and University of Johannesburg (UJ) South Africa.

It also indicated rigorous collaborative planning across the partnering universities. One of the central aims of this collaboration was to support researchers and teachers in adopting innovative teaching modules for STEM concepts, for achieving the SDG goals.

The third presentation by Rachana Bhangaokar (PhD, Assistant Professor and Acting Chair Department of Human Development and Family Studies, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda Vadodara, Gujarat, India) was on A Möbius-strip Model of Decolonising Knowledge in India: Pathways for Global Research Collaborations’ (online presentation). 

The presentation was an envisioning proposal for developing an internationalized curriculum for Human Development and Family studies. It outlined the continuities and convergence between nature of knowledge contextual to India, while being internationalised for contemporary understandings of the domain. The analogy of the Möbius-strip in research collaboration illustrated the continuous loop of practice-action-research, advancing contextually grounded disciplinary knowledge.

The three presentations further highlighted that at the heart of all collaboration, and global education development was a research-practice-disciplinary quest continuum that resulted in active partnerships.

Bridging the gaps

The range of topics covered by the three presenters brought out several aspects indicating collaboration at the core of bridging the education-research-practice gap for global education development. 

The three presentations further highlighted that at the heart of all collaboration, and global education development was a research-practice-disciplinary quest continuum that resulted in active partnerships.

The discussion brought out the underlying elements that seemed to enable such collaborations to thrive. Typically, scientific research activities between the institutions of developed nations and other regions, particularly under-developed contexts of the world have seen a certain hierarchical relationship between the questions asked, and the frameworks generated from research-practice collaborations.

One could identify that a reciprocal and dynamic relationship between a varied set of elements would drive the success of collaborative endeavours. These being:

  • A need to contribute to the global ecosystem of knowledge sharing and knowledge building. SDG goals driving the need to work with partners from under-represented and less-studied contexts.

  • Tremendous learning that each of the projects offered to all participating institutions and individuals for understanding and appreciating various contexts, and evolving solutions that are contextually viable and relevant.

  • The two empirical studies underway, and the call for collaboration using the Möbius-strip model reflected the innovative solutions that would need to be mainstreamed to achieve education development.

  • Lastly, relationships that rest on the principle of mutual respect for all partnering individuals and institutions would need to be at the heart of genuine collaborations for global education development.

This shows the relationships among the collaboration elements. The two-way line indicates the two-way/multiple reciprocal ways in which these collaborations work. The blue lines in between communicate the dynamic aspect of this relationship.

The symposium included a set of questions and insights for bridging education research, practice, and global education development and seeing collaborative work to derive customised solutions to context-based problems.

Actively acknowledging these elements and recognising the nuances at various stages of collaborations will likely determine the ultimate success or failure of these collaborative endeavours.

Reflections by the organising team based on the deliberations at the symposium included a set of questions and insights for 

  • bridging education research, practice, and global education development
  • seeing collaborative work to derive customised solutions to context-based problems.

We are a university with a focus on teaching and research on contextual questions and working on developing context-based solutions. Being a discussant at this symposium provided an opportunity to see that several international initiatives seem to lead to rich learning – partner individuals and institutions from diverse countries benefit from different kinds of strengths that each participant brings on board.

This piece is an edited excerpt from a larger blog post published on the GINTL webpage.

The full text of the co-authored article can be found here.

About the author

Kinnari Pandya is a faculty member in the School of Education. She works in the area of early childhood education and teacher education. She also anchors the university’s GINTL collaboration with University of Jyväskylä and University of Helsinki, Finland.