23 Pages

Austria’s Lerndesigner network

The dynamics of Virtual Professional Learning in interschool networks
ByLivia Roessler, Tanja Westfall-Greiter

In this chapter, the authors present the story of how a nationwide Professional Learning Network emerged during Austria's most significant school reform, the 'New Middle School'. In an effort to improve equity and excellence, a reform pilot in lower secondary began in 2008, with the new role of Lerndesigner introduced into the Austrian school system. The role has since become a defined teacher leadership function anchored in labor regulations, for which teachers acquire certification in a university accredited program. The authors explore responsive processes, collaboration and negotiation as well as open large-group formats for face-to-face and virtual spaces that enabled system developers to co-construct what was to become a qualification program for the role. Beyond face-to-face events, all Lerndesigners were brought together across generations virtually in a 'meta-course' for all generations called the 'Online Lernatelier for Lerndesigners' on the platform. The Lerndesigner network is an interschool network of teacher leaders engaged in professional learning across provincial and school boundaries.