In an effort to describe the successful on-going educational outreach and reform efforts in physics at Florida International University we consider the complex context of the educational ecosystem (Aubusson 2002, 2006). Through the application of this theoretical perspective we identify elements of the reform effort and propose a research driven model for sustainable educational reform. Aubusson (2006, 2002) utilized analogical mapping to establish an analogy between an ecosystem and a school reform effort in science. Educational reform is a complex process that requires overall systemic change which accounts for local contexts in order to be sustainable (Finkelstein, 2005; Stoll and Fink, 2003). Exploiting the analogy to reason about educational reform points out that reform depends on a complex web of interconnected subsystems. Each of these subsystems are critical to the overall health of the ecosystem. Other characteristics identified by the analogy between the two systems include the following characteristics of ecosystems in educational systems: complexity, homeostasis, succession over time, fitness, generation/regeneration, opportunism, reproductive maturity, fragility, variational evolution, purpose, and knowledge. In order to document the broad educational reform, we have identified three interconnected sub-systems, (curricular reform, community, and advocacy) which have been instrumental to the flourishing educational ecosystem at FIU. By identifying these systems as the constituents, we are in effect establishing the boundaries of our educational ecosystem. These sub-systems, have been subject to on-going research efforts (Brewe et. al., 2008, 2009). In this talk we describe the three subsystems, the connections between the subsystems, identify their role in sustaining the educational ecosystem, and describe how the educational ecosystem model provides a sustainable approach to educational reform.
Refreshments in CW 119 at 4:15 p.m.