TitelSchool Development Within Networks in a Digital World: Risky Ride or Beneficial Blessing?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
Book TitlePartnerships in Education. Risks in Transdisciplinary Educational Research
EditionTransdisciplinary Perspectives in Educational Research
AuthorsGageik, L, Hasselkuß, M, Endberg, M
EditorOtrel-Cass, K, Laing, KJC, Wolf, J
PublisherSpringer Nature
CityCham, Switzerland
ISBN Number978-3-030-98452-6
ISSN Number2662-6691

Networking is a great way to share ideas and learn from one another on a peer-to-peer-basis. This does not only hold true for individuals, but for institutions and organisations as well. Especially when tackling complex challenges combined knowledge, skills and competences may support development processes. However, as working together is not always easy and may include misunderstandings or lead to stress and conflict, it is also necessary to consider the potential risks and challenges of school networks and collaboration. The main aim of this chapter is to consider potential risks and challenges that schools face when collaborating in networks and to compare this with empirical findings to see whether partnerships between schools rather tend to be a risky ride for the involved actors or are perceived as a beneficial blessing for them. These risks are deduced from two conceptual models concerning school development in network structures and teacher collaboration, respectively. In order to examine whether the deduced risks are existent in school networks, data from the German research project DigiSchoolNet, was analysed. As the overall project structure is rather complex, a mixed-methods approach is used in this paper to combine findings from different research designs within the project. In the study schools that engaged in school networks (with a special focus on digitalization) make up the sample.

On the one hand, established networks that have worked together for several years are analysed using a retrospective, qualitative research design by applying content analysis and on the other hand, newly formed networks are researched with a longitudinal, quantitative design using the method of ego-centric network analysis. Both network samples can provide results regarding the work in the school networks and teacher collaboration. The results are discussed against the backdrop of the deduced risks answering the question whether the risks or the benefits from partnerships in education prevail. Our results show that the benefits outweigh the risks as all actors can draw much input from engaging in the school network. Thus, we found reason to conclude that the biggest risk for partnerships in education (here understood as school networks) is to be scared of the mentioned risks and to reject engaging in a school network in the first place.

© Universität Duisburg-Essen | -