As societies become progressively knowledge-intensive, they increasingly rely on human capabilities to learn and innovate. How each nation's education system prepares or fails to prepare its citizenry to meet these challenges are topics of global interest. A primary driver of educational innovation is basic research focused on how humans learn. The challenge is how to more effectively use research about how people learn to inform educational practice, and conversely, how to use knowledge and experience gained from educational practice to raise questions that test and refine research being conducted on learning. This award will enable US researchers to participate in the OECD conference on Innovation in Education: Connecting how we learn to educational practice and policy research evidence and implications. In addition, these researchers will be able to participate in a scientific symposium on Neuroimaging and advances in Learning research, to be held just prior to the OECD conference. The Intellectual merit and broader impacts of the two separate, but related activities include the following: 1) it will bring together an international group of researchers, practitioners and policymakers for discussions about key scientific findings that have implications for educational practice and policy creating an understanding of the value of learning research and its impacts on social and economic priorities; 2) It will foster the development of an international network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers to continue the dialogue after the meeting. Continued engagement will enable US researchers and educators to examine models of learning and teaching that have proven successful in other countries. An understanding of the essential elements that can be tested, developed and adapted for use will be of benefit to US researchers and educators; 3) enable the US researchers attending the scientific symposium to develop new collaborations with European leaders in neuroimaging and learning research, and to create international opportunities for training of US students.
This project was comprised of two main activities: an international one-day pre-conference workshop and a two-day international conference, both held in Paris, France. The goals of the activities were: High-level dissemination of recent research on how people learn, by promoting dialogue among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers; To foster the development of an international network on the broad theme of learning, so as to continue the dialogue among research, policy and practice communities on overcoming key challenges; and, To globalize and mobilize the field of an integrative, multidisciplinary Science of Learning by strengthening and exploring new collaborations among U.S. researchers and their international counterparts. The activities sought to allow U.S. scientists who study the science of learning to participate in a jointly organized conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris in January 2012, and in addition, to participate in a neuroscience pre-conference workshop at the NeuroSpin Center just outside of Paris. The OECD conference allowed an international group of researchers from many disciplines to share their findings and ideas in an interactive forum with educational practitioners and policymakers who represented the 34 OECD member countries from around the world. The OECD Conference provided a unique opportunity for countries to share their successful practices and strategies, to reflect on the newest research about learning that was presented, and begin to think about ways to strengthen and expand on their commitments to improving and innovating education in their countries. The gathering of U.S. learning scientists, education practitioners, and policymakers in the international setting of the OECD created palpable moments of collective understanding and shared commitments to further explore ways of sharing and collaborating. The pre-conference neuroscience workshop at the NeuroSpin Center focused more in depth on neuroscience and education and the development of new international scientific collaborations. The intellectual merit and outcomes of the two activities was twofold: (1) the bringing together of international researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to reinforce the interactive nature of discovery that stretches from basic to translational. It is a two-way street: Work in the laboratory or in the field influences practices in schools and other educational settings, which in turn reveals new factors that alter the course of basic research. The conference at the OECD in Paris helped start this two-way street on an international scale. (2) The face-to-face interchange between neuroscientists and educators produced new collaborations that will take us beyond mere communication about our ideas and plans and will create new partnerships that will have the potential to go beyond what has been done in the past in more fundamental ways. Sharing ideas and successes across countries offers the rare opportunity to be introduced to entirely new ways of thinking about the future of education. Broader outcomes of the concluded activities may include: (a) fostering of the development, adoption and adaptation of effective models of teaching that have proven successful in various countries, (b) establishment of new international research collaborations on learning that are interdisciplinary to advance methods and theory, (c) stimulation of the development of next generation instrumentation in multi-user facilities that will improve the measurement of brain responses during learning, (d) development of theories with interdisciplinary input that will explain why particular approaches to learning are successful and promote an understanding of the basic brain mechanisms that underlie learning, (e) creation of the understanding of the value of learning research among policymakers and broader audiences across countries, and (f) understanding of the two-way street that exists between research and practice in the learning sciences to encourage continued interaction between the researchers and practitioners going forward. Future international meetings may provide additional opportunities for these and other outcomes to be developed further. The outcomes may be in the form of collaborative research studies, new research methods and tools, and educational practices implemented in learning environments worldwide.