EX-PED-LAB will show how the use of the workshop method can create innovation in pedagogical practice in preschools and preschool teacher education. Our workshops bring together teachers, managers and researchers – sometimes together with artists, designers, students, children and families – for joint exploration. Some of the workshops will take an academic approach involving analysis and response to work prepared by the participants, which may entail observations, drawings, stories, photographs and films. Others will take a practical approach in which we use our imagination and try out different solutions.
We will be studying the workshop as a work method in light of new, shared leadership roles in the sector, as well as how the workshop method can strengthen values for a sustainable future. By establishing a forum where preschool teachers and managers can share experiences from their pedagogical work with researchers and preschool teacher education instructors – as well as transcend the internal dialogue by inviting expertise from outside the sector – we can explore, challenge and further develop knowledge and practice. The development of this workshop method will meet the need for knowledge on how different parts of the preschool sector can work together. The methodology has already been tested in a preliminary study. Now that we are developing it further, we will have the opportunity to test out and further theorise methods for collaboration among various partners with different roles in the preschool sector and others interested in creating better conditions for children.
EX-PED-LAB will provide a broad empirical basis for a workshop method for collaboration with a focus on exploration, new knowledge and pedagogical innovation. Cental in the project is the design of a new preschool in Bergen, as well as to create a think tank for inspiration and application in practical preschool work and in competency development in the preschool sector.
The proposed EX-PED-LAB project responds to the call for scholarly knowledge to inform the design and delivery of collaborative and responsive pedagogical programmes that support innovation in kindergartens, in kindergarten teacher education and in practice-oriented research in Norway. The EX-PED-LAB combines these into interdisciplinary research to facilitate new thinking and new knowledge that support a future-oriented kindergarten education system. The EX-PED-LAB is a research hub within which interdisciplinary teams across the sectors of early childhood education, research, practice, administration, teacher education and design can imagine, debate, research, innovate and generate new knowledge for the development of new practices for immediate transformation of the kindergarten sector. The project addresses the UN’s SDG 4 on quality education and 17 on inclusive partnerships and pursues a two-fold goal: creation of scholarly knowledge and development of transformative evidence- and arts-based knowledge. This includes kindergarten governance, kindergarten teacher education and capacity building of the current and next generation of kindergarten-oriented researchers, realised by supporting and improving kindergartens’ work on quality improvement and developing new knowledge for and with the Early Childhood Education and Care sector. This is relevant for promoting knowledge-based practice, a central objective in the Research Council Norway’s ‘Education and Competence Portfolio Plan’ collaborative and knowledge building project. We anticipate that the EX-PED-LAB methodology will position actors in the ECEC sector to implement knowledge-based methodologies that strengthen practices, competences and capabilities through collaborative knowledge creation. The knowledge will be novel as it will not only build upon but also extend beyond action research, understood as a problem-solving methodology responding to practical problems identified solely by ECEC practitioners.