Scale or spread? A partnership case study between Learnlife and Intrinsic

The Learnlife movement is growing, but is it scaling, or spreading? What do these words mean to you?
Scale or spread? A partnership case study between Learnlife and Intrinsic

Words, as you will have seen by now, are always consciously chosen by those of us working for change in education, and we would welcome your input on this one. Before you let us know which word you find more reflective of the process, let us take a look at the latest example of partnership in our community. 

Learnlife is building a new partnership with Intrinsic, which is the largest platform in Switzerland for radical educational innovation. Their core model is innovating and implementing future proof training for learning guides and educators, and developing research that can influence and disrupt existing models of education and learning. 

The alignment is clear, and presents an exciting opportunity to collaborate between two like-minded organisations who can complement one another for the benefit of the learners we serve. As Intrinsic’s Christian Müller told us:

We see ourselves as an organization in development and want to learn from the best. Learnlife and Intrinsic can certainly benefit a lot from each other. The core business of Intrinsic is to invent and implement future-proof teacher training. We would like to enrich this product with the methods of Learnlife. In the Intrinsic Kosmos project, we would also like to learn from the Hubling concept. And next spring, Intrinsic will also launch new offers for children and young people, which we will enrich with Learnlife spirit."

In addition to collaborating on learning opportunities for young people through the Hublings approach, and adding a new dimension to their teacher training in higher education institutions, Intrinsic also offers an exciting opportunity for the Learnlife model to grow in Central Europe. Christian tells us:

“We would like Intrinsic to be able to train learning guides together with Learnlife for the various Learnlife hubs in Germany and Austria in the future. We would also like to make the insights from our research available to Learnlife.”

So there we have it. We are hugely excited at the possibility to reach new learners in partnership with Intrinsic, but what exactly is this model of growth? The majority of people we talk to about growing and building our movement, tend to focus on the concept of “scale”. How can the model scale to reach more people and enrich more lives?

To scale something, essentially, means using the small version as a guide to create a larger version, which implies a sense of replication. Is this what is happening here? In an interview with Learnlife’s Chief Impact Officer Ulrike Suwwan, we discuss this topic in more detail. Ulrike tells us that “We are not a franchise, where the burgers taste the same in every restaurant”. 

Discussion with Ulrike Suwwan about the Learnlife <> Intrinsic Partnership

The personal learning paradigm does not belong to Learnlife, but has been developed with the support of an active community of learners, parents, experts, researchers, learning guides and other professionals. It is in perpetual motion, as partners such as intrinsic learn from our expertise in bringing the paradigm to life, we benefit from their insights on the ground, and expertise in refining or modifying it. This is not replication, but symbiosis. 

Every context and community is different. Every education system in the world is unique and has its place on the spectrum, and that place itself is rarely static. If we are truly to escape the tethering of education to industrial models, perhaps we should lay the concept of scaling education firmly to rest?

In a journal published in the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, entitled Spread, Scale, and Sustainability in Population Health, Anita McGahan posits that “spread can be thought of as reach” so that, in her example, healthcare can reach into a community to ensure that everyone is getting the care they need. 

Scale, on the other hand, involves creating a “fixed infrastructure” that can serve larger numbers of people with diminishing costs over time. She concludes that healthcare is therefore “notoriously unscaled” because every individual gets specific attention and has specific needs, and sustainability of this model therefore requires perpetual commitment and persistence. Is a learner-directed approach to education very different?

Intrinsic Partner Hub Launch

Partnerships such as our collaboration with Intrinsic give the spirit and energy of the Learnlife community more reach and impact, and the personal learning paradigm additional settings in which it can be tested and honed, but they also create a new link and channel to absorb and learn from this new setting. Intrinsic are experts in what they do, and we have as much to learn from their experiences and insights. 

The personal learning paradigm has evolved to meet the needs of every learner on a human level, but the structures which support it on the ground will always be as unique and fluid as the communities around these learners. If it feels easy, comfortable and straightforward, then it cannot be true growth. As the movement spreads, and more partnerships evolve, we all grow together. 

So what do you think? Should we still talk about scaling, or spreading or something else? As always, everything we do is open to change. 

Free up your calendars on 1st of October 2021 for a celebration as we welcome Intrinsic, Learnlife's first official partner hub! Be on the lookout for surprises and more information. See you! 

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