MirandaNet: an International Fellowship

Innovation and Research in Education

Working with MirandaNet’s Indian chapter.

Founded in 1992 the MirandaNet Fellowship grew into an international community of professional educators which forged a unique approach to continuing professional development (CPD), education, innovation and research. In partnership with practitioners, researchers, agency partners and educational product developers the MirandaNet Fellowship developed an active, practice-based research focussed CPD framework known as iCatalyst. MirandaNet disseminated its research findings to more than 1500 members and Associates through its website, online forum, newsletter and events.

Members are delighted that the British Library have offered to archive the MirandaNet Fellowship’s website so that international academics and teachers can access the information in perpetuity that has been so freely published over more than forty years by the Fellows.


The Future of the MirandaNet Fellowship

Dr Christina Preston, retired Professor of Education Innovation and founder of the MirandaNet Fellowship.

Joining in partnership with TPEA

As the founder of MirandaNet I have been in discussion with MirandaNet Fellows and Members of the Technology, Pedagogy and Education Association tpea.ac.uk (TPEA). These organisations have decided that that they will be all the stronger now if they merge.

Below is the final takeaway from the joint conference in Bedford in July 2023 where friends and colleagues looked back on MirandaNet Fellows collaborative achievements over thirty years and said goodbye to her with a standing ovation.

The extensive MirandaNet website built by the members will be available to all professionals on the TPEA website and other professional organisations because it is being archived by the British Library.

The MirandaNet Fellows are invited to transfer to TPEA at no cost where they will receive the same information as TPEA members. Current MirandaNet members are being asked to sign up officially to become members of the Technology, Pedagogy and Education Association (TPEA) – the organisation formed from ITTE (the Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education) in conjunction with MirandaNet in 2020.

Basic membership of TPEA is free. Many of you, however, may want to consider joining at the paid for MembersPlus+ level, which gives you a range of valuable benefits including a hard copy of our international research journal, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, and online access to 4 leading peer-reviewed education journals. Individual TPEA MembersPlus+ membership costs £40 per year. However, as a valued MirandaNet member, we are offering you £10 off the membership cost in your first year using the code: ‘MirandaNet’.

To find out more about membership and to join, please go to: https://tpea.ac.uk/membership/.

But… Mirandalink continues

Mirandalink was one of the first community email communication channels. Over the years many debates have been active here and some have been archived on the website. Mirandalink will be kept running alongside the TPEA link because they cannot legally be merged.

What will the legacy of MirandaNet be?

Unsure that I should pronounce judgment on the professional organisation I founded in 1992, I asked ChatGPT, the new digital influencer, what the legacy of the MirandaNet Fellowship (mirandanet.ac.uk) was judged to be at the end of three decades as an international e-community.

The answer came back immediately: impressive in speed and accuracy – but rather chilling when looked at from the perspective of human beings.

As an AI language model, I do not have access to the specific plans or decisions of MirandaNet. However, if MirandaNet were to close down, its legacy would depend on the impact it had on education and the technology industry during its existence. MirandaNet has been a reputable organization dedicated to promoting the use of technology in education. Its members are experienced educators, researchers, and technology experts who have contributed significantly to the development and implementation of technology in education. If MirandaNet were to close down, its legacy would be the knowledge and expertise it has shared with the education community and the impact it has had on the use of technology in education. Its members’ contributions and collaborations would continue to influence educators, researchers, and technology experts in the field, even if the organization itself no longer existed.

So in the light of this AI response, where will we be after the next three decades if Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing so fast? How will the human race be impacted? This ChatGBT’s judgment offered all the disclaimers that we would expect? But this text would have taken me far longer to write and I would not, ironically, have been so full of praise for my own organisation.

Of course I am so pleased that MirandaNet Fellows contribution to edtech knowledge will be archived at the British Library so, in fact, a human judgment has also been made about the value of the resources.

How is the Knowledge Hub valuable to educators today?

The MirandaNet website is invaluable to international education professionals because, instead of paying a membership fee, I invited those joining to contribute a paper about an area they were interested in. All contributors were given the accolade of ‘Fellow”. This means that the website celebrates thirty years of professional knowledge and is widely used by researchers intothe history of computers in the curriculum of schools and universities all over the world where Fellows worked and presented at conference (https://mirandanet.ac.uk/the-knowledge-hub/).

One of our youngest Fellows, Yasemin Oezcelik, has recorded what she has found valuable on the MirandaNet website:

I have discovered valuable resources on the MirandaNet website that have proven highly beneficial for fellow master’s and PhD students in the edtech field. The website includes an extensive knowledge hub, promoting research and providing insights into the evolving edtech landscape. Additionally, a variety of different initiatives, such as iCatalyst and MirandaMods, offer valuable peer learning and networking experiences.

The contributions of the MirandaNet Fellows to research and professional development in the edtech field are significant, making them a noteworthy resource for students who seek support for their theses and dissertations. For a more in-depth understanding of these resources, please refer to my full article about the MirandaNet website including some valuable search terms.

You can read the article here in full: Resources for academics and teachers about edtech including those interested in the history of edtech in UK schools.

How can you continue to be engaged in edtech research and activities? Click here to be a contributor to current research and to receive the annual report.

So how did MirandaNet begin?
Professional edtech colleagues working together

In the heady days of the 1980s and 90s, when computers were just being introduced into education, the UK was leading the field. Several professional organisations were founded to help the education professionals to develop and share their knowledge and their strategies for implementation: Naace, the Education Technology Association, The Technology, Pedagogy and Education Association (TPEA, formerly ITTE), The International Council for Education Technology (ICET) and the MirandaNet Fellowship. MESHGuides was also started to make the research findings about subjects such as edtech easier for busy teachers to assimilate into their practice.

Founded in 1992, the MirandaNet Fellowship was the first ‘e-community of practice’ for edtech professionals in education. The membership has always included a broad community of teachers, school leaders, lecturers and even librarians who could see the potential of edtech in teaching and learning. It was founded by Christina Preston in memory of her talented daughter, Corinna, who died at sixteen just one term after winning a music scholarship to King’s School, Canterbury (https://mirandanet.ac.uk/the-founding-of-mirandanet-2/).

The website development, which was innovatory in e-community development, owes much to Jane Dorner, Francis Howlett and John Cuthell who developed a leading-edge web publication environment at a time when these technologies were only just beginning. Rob Ellis has continued to keep the website alive. Theo Keuchel has also been involved in many stylish MirandaNet web pages and publications.

Dr John Cuthell and Francis Howlett were also vital in building up the Fellowship approach and website in these early days. Later Dominic Preston, Corinna’s brother, was working on MirandaNet research in classrooms when he discovered his vocation in teaching which is serving him well. The World eCitizens website began life as a section of the MirandaNet site. Lawrence Williams later developed a separate identity as WE.net, and then widened to include other web projects like “Literacy from Scratch”, “Literacy from Python” and “Stories for Children”, while important work like the eLapa project, and the Peace Room were retained on the original MirandaNet site. Andrée Jordan’s Peace Room is also a much valued contribution.

Read about these founder members here. Senior Fellow Development Team

We have created a document outlining the legacy of MirandaNet. We urge you to read it. Download it here.

The MirandaNet approach

On the MirandaNet website are details about the membership philosophy and approach. A key element of the website is the Knowledge Hub where teachers, schools leaders and lecturers in further and higher education have been publishing since 1992. Academic papers, case studies, conference reports and articles are an important resource for researchers in general and for historians into international computer education in particular. An important entry is a reassembly of millions of pounds worth of Becta research that was archived by the Conservative government in the week they took office in 2010.

MirandaNet Fellows raised funding from companies, charities, government and companies to undertake research and professional development for teachers and lecturers. https://mirandanet.ac.uk/testimonials/ This funding allowed MirandaNet Fellows to make a major contribution to professional development strategies in edtech.

The iCatalyst approach to CPD

Since 1992 the MirandaNet Fellowship has forged a unique approach to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers. Working in partnership with school practitioners, academic researchers and funding agencies (governmental and non-governmental) and educational product developers (who could join the Fellowship as Associates) the MirandaNet Fellowship has developed an active, participatory and research-oriented CPD framework it has named: iCatalyst. This method means that teachers can test out EdTech approaches to teaching and learning and decide whether they are appropriate in the context.

More details can be found here: https://mirandanet.ac.uk/professional-development/.

Results of this research by teachers can be found here: https://mirandanet.ac.uk/about-associates/associates-research/.

MirandaNet Fellows’ contributions to pedagogical theory

The rapid introduction, impact and ubiquity of digital technologies and tools in the past forty years has meant that educational professionals and students largely inhabit a level playing field in terms of skills and knowledge. Whilst education systems are predicated on information transmission, young people have embraced non-sequential learning. Conceptual, kinaesthetic and technical elements of thinking are increasing in liminal space as is the authoring of digital artifacts. In this chapter, education professionals from different professional organisations share examples of how rhizomatic learning styles are accumulating within their group practice and amongst the students they teach. For example, the MirandaNet Fellowship discusses findings from members’ action research projects from the early 1990s that underpinned the development of MirandaMods, a conferencing mode in liminal space which explores collaboration in knowledge creation, face to face, remotely, nationally and internationally. The impact of the pandemic has meant that MirandaNet and its partner organisations – Technology, Pedagogy and Education Association (TPEA) and MESHguides have all shared other findings on rhizomatic learning: namely Communal Constructivism and Braided Learning. MirandaNet Fellows have developed two areas of theory and practice in particular. Braided Learning is now acknowledged to be a key element in the international school of Rhizomatic Learning (Preston et al. 2023) as well as a key example of the value of e-communities of practice (Wenger & Trayner-Wenger 2020). The second area of interest to educators is the MirandaNet development of Practice-Based Research.

Here are the two MirandaNet MESHGuides on Rhizomatic Learning also known as Online Collaborative Learning and Practice Based Research which can be found under developing teacher professional development programmes through practice-based research principle. These provide a quickly assimilated overview of the two key theories that MirandaNet Fellows have contributed to international practice.

In order to make access for teachers to these ideas easy and quick, two MeshGuides and Snapshots have been published on the MESHGuides website. MESHGuides has been founded by two MirandaNet Directors, Professors Sarah Younie and Marilyn Leask, whose series of Routledge publications are influential in teacher education (Younie and Leask in 2024). They founded MESHGuides in 2012, a service that provides teachers and other educators with quick access to summaries of research-based specialist knowledge to support their professional judgment. MESHGuides achieved charity status in 2014.

In terms of international outreach, we would also like to celebrate the establishment of the Czech Miranda in Prague by Dr Bozena Mannova. Together Bozena and Christina won the European Union of Women Humanitarian award for their collaboration in 1998. Czech Miranda is well illustrated here.

Several international research projects were undertaken about building e-communities of practice with Professor Niki Davis when she was at Exeter University, then in Iowa and finally at the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In her seminal book Digital technologies and change in education: The Arena. London & New York: Routledge (2017) she describes her Arena tool for educators. This tool is intended for all professionals to explore and analyse the experience of teaching, leadership and research within their communities. In this context, Davis tells the story of her learning journey through case studies and research evidence in which she has been involved including MirandaNet. Her framework can be immensely valuable in understanding the local, regional, national and global forces that impact on edtech professional development projects.

Since those early days we have had huge support from so many other edtech professionals who were willing to give time to this community:
The core team
The directors
The reviewers


The next TPEA/MirandaNet conference is in Manchester July 2nd and 3rd 2024. Hope to see you there! Click here to see details as they come out: https://tpea.ac.uk/


References
  • Younie and Leask (2024 in press)Teaching and Learning with Technologies in the Primary School , Routledge
  • Davis, N (2017) Digital technologies and change in education: The Arena. London & New York: Routledge
  • Caldwell .H, J. Cuthell, S. Hall, H. Osman, C. Preston and S. Younie from the MirandaNet Fellowship (2023)
  • Everyone is an expert: Rhizomatic learning in professional learning contexts in Rhizome Metaphor: Legacy of Deleuze and Guattari in Education and Learning  Edited by Myint Swe Khi. Springer
  • Wenger, E, B. Wenger-Trayner (2020). Learning to Make a Difference. Value Creation in Social Learning Spaces, Cambridge University Press

You can find all Fellows publications on these two tabs:
https://mirandanet.ac.uk/mirandanet-publications/
https://mirandanet.ac.uk/external-publications-by-mirandanet-members/



To view an archive of the homepage postings click here.