Shared Education and Online Lesson Study (ShELS)


To date, teacher interactions within Shared Education (SE) have tended to focus on cooperation rather than collaboration, with limited evidence of collaborative professional learning between teachers in SE partnerships. The Shared Education and Lesson Study (ShELS) project aims to explore how perceived barriers to collaboration, such as logistical matters associated with inter-school visits can be overcome by using Online Lesson Study (OLS). Specifically, the project explores OLS as a vehicle for collaborative professional learning between primary teachers who are involved in an existing SE partnership. OLS represents a contemporary take on the Japanese Lesson Study model, where digital tools are utilised to enable a group of teachers to come together to collectively research, plan, teach and reflect on a research lesson with a group of learners. This process is facilitated by a Knowledgeable Other (KO), whose role is to guide and extend the teachers’ learning. While Lesson Study (LS) has been wellacknowledged as a powerful means to foster teachers’ collaborative learning and practice, given its novelty, have been growing calls for further empirical investigation into OLS. In particular, the role of the KO, where a notable gap in literature prevails. Thus, a further aim of the ShELS project, approached by way of self-study, was to deepen understanding of the role of the KOs and how they can facilitate OLS in ways which effectively support teacher learning. The project involved facilitation of one cycle of OLS over one school term (January-May) with three teachers involved in an existing twoschool primary SE partnership in the Republic of Ireland; comprised on-site face-toface and online components; and culminated in a public shared learning event, attended by education stakeholders from across the island of Ireland. Findings deriving from thematic analysis of data gathered from OLS meetings and post-OLS interviews with teacher participants indicate that OLS effectively supported teachers’ collaborative learning and classroom practice in their chosen area of mathematics. However, participants suggested that there may be scope to deepen collaboration through additional OLS cycles, which may involve arranging a joint lesson with students from both schools. Aligning with this, findings from the self-study strand of the project suggest that more than one cycle of OLS would be beneficial in order to deepen teachers’ learning and further strengthen collaborative relationships between facilitators and the teachers. The project findings can be considered particularly timely as schools are encouraged to seek sustainable approaches to SE over the long term and OLS, as a method utilising existing digital technology, offering a potentially cost-effective means of fostering teacher collaboration within and between SE partnerships. Keywords: Shared education; Lesson Study; collaborative learning; teacher professional learning; mathematics education