Infinity Learn Limited

Infinity Learn Limited is a new and exciting company led by consultants Brian Annan and Mary Wootton with expert support from our experienced and successful Affiliates.

Many schools and communities are looking for creative ways to engage children and young adults into learning in the modern world. We have the design and facilitation expertise to support you in that endeavour. Most of our ideas are simple ones. Often they come from our external eyes finding positive things in your situation that are staring you in the face but you cannot see them. Want an example?

Like believing that all kids are cognitively capable – it is a matter of drawing that capability out of them rather than scripting stories that some have it and some don’t. Really? Try it and see what happens!

We developed that sort of expertise by dedicating our early careers to teaching, school leadership and improvement to weave together assessment, inquiry learning and evaluative capability. Those efforts improved things, but they drained many kids, teachers and leaders as they were asked to work harder and longer to succeed.

We tipped things upside down in our contribution to the Learning and Change Networks strategy. Our design and facilitation invited 57 networks involving 350 schools and communities to find the obvious positive things and used them in creative ways to grow fabulous learning environments in which all kids succeed.

It took some courage to resist a strong pull back into traditional schooling improvement thinking and evidence. We weathered some storms and became more and more convinced that all kids have the cognitive capability to overcome challenges and succeed in formal learning. We saw kids grow their confidence in formal learning over the two-year time period of the strategy. They figured things out together with their classmates and friends that they made from other classes and schools and with their teachers and families joined at the hip. Then we trialled the Learning Maps approach with a group of 400 kids and discovered that the same results could be achieved in a day, a week and a month.

Learning became easier for kids in challenging circumstances and well being blossomed. How cool is that?

We believe three simple scaffolds position kids, teachers and families to learn and live together in vibrant ways.
We support groups to;

  • activate,
  • collaborate, and
  • innovate around learning and living.
The diagrams below show these scaffolds in two different images:
1
2
3
1

Activate: is about doing things with rather than for or to people. We activate agency among school and social sector professionals to let go of gap and needs analyses and develop appreciative support frames. Professionals’ time is best spent activating children, families and whānau to uncover the positives in their learning environments and daily lives and use those positives to change ‘same-old-same-old’ situations.

2

Collaborate: is about professionals interacting with children, families, and whānau and community leaders as partners. Together, they share responsibility to change their mindsets and adapt the way they learn and live together. Student agency is definitely a feature but so too is agency re-adjustments in adult support roles.

3

Innovate: is about having the courage to go into the ‘unknown’. It is about trying new and different ways of thinking, learning and doing things, with a belief that something good will come out the other end. Evidence of what works comes out of the innovative endeavour.

1
2
3
1

Activate: is about doing things with rather than for or to people. We activate agency among school and social sector professionals to let go of gap and needs analyses and develop appreciative support frames. Professionals’ time is best spent activating children, families and whānau to uncover the positives in their learning environments and daily lives and use those positives to change ‘same-old-same-old’ situations.

2

Collaborate: is about professionals interacting with children, families, and whānau and community leaders as partners. Together, they share responsibility to change their mindsets and adapt the way they learn and live together. Student agency is definitely a feature but so too is agency re-adjustments in adult support roles.

3

Innovate: is about having the courage to go into the ‘unknown’. It is about trying new and different ways of thinking, learning and doing things, with a belief that something good will come out the other end. Evidence of what works comes out of the innovative endeavour.

The first diagram appears as a tidy matrix. Each scaffold builds on the previous in a linear development cycle. This arrangement is useful to grow understanding about the three scaffolds and the links between them.

The second diagram appears as three fluid elements merging into a meshed development arrangement. It loses the feel of linear development.  It gives the impression that there are multiple starting and finishing points and a sense of freedom to push boundaries and move into new spaces.

Both images are useful. The first diagram provides structure for beginners and for those with advanced capabilities to get themselves out of complex situations.  The second diagram invites people to let go of structure as capability grows and as the landscape becomes more flexible and diverse.

Finally, we believe it is best to take a considered view of how to step across the bridge from the past into the future. Consideration, care and safety are critical in that transition.  Some elements from the past should remain treasured in the future, such as identity and values. There is also a stretch element in stepping across the bridge. Our collective thinking is moving from school-centric education to a broader concept of ecological learning within and across schools, communities and environments. We need to stretch our minds to understand that movement, trial what it feels like and find the champions in our groups that can lead the way. It can feel like a scary bridge to cross, but it can also be exhilarating if you are prepared to activate, collaborate and innovate and let others do the same.

Brian Annan (PhD), Director

Brian Annan (PhD), a change expert who thoroughly enjoys leading cutting-edge strategies to resolve complex and challenging situations in ways that participants step confidently into the future.  He has taught kids, led schools, driven schooling improvement initiatives, studied systems-change, informed policy and is now supporting groups of people to develop lateral learning networks locally, nationally and globally.

Brian’s versitility invites individuals and small and large groups to discuss their preferred learning arrangements from one-to-one coaching/mentoring sessions to seminars to future-focused projects.  His flexible, interactive and deep analytic style is in strong demand across schools, social service systems, community groups and businesses.

  • Director, Infinity Learn Limited Director, September 2015
  • Director, Research and Development in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, 2010 – August 2015
  • Programme Director Learning and Change Networks strategy, 2012-June 2015
  • NZ member of the Global Education Leaders Partnerships (GELP) and OECD Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) collaboration, 2010-current

Contact me: info@infinitylearn.org

Mary Wootton (MEd 1st class Honours), Director

Mary Wootton (MEd 1st class Honours) is an experienced and highly successful facilitator of learning who supports people to blossom as she becomes invisible. It is a facilitation art form that is growing in demand as people come to terms with modern learning environments. Mary understands the importance of retaining elements of the instructional core, such as assessment, curriculum, teaching and learning pedagogies and leadership. She also recognises the phenomenal growth of informal learning through lateral and digital networking.  Integrating formal and informal learning is no simple matter and expert facilitation can save thousands of hours of hit-and-miss development.  Mary’s style is suited to many different circumstances. She coaches individual schools, business and sporting leaders to learn how to learn in the modern world, trains professional development teams to adopt future-focused facilitation skills and runs seminars and un-conferenced networking days for interested parties from small groups up to 500 people. Mary’s most recent roles include:

  • Director, Infinity Learn Limited Director, September 2015
  • Lead Facilitator for the NZ Learning and Change Networks strategy,
  • Lead Facilitator for Assessment and Literacy for University of Auckland international schooling projects,
  • Literacy Programme Director for the NZ Consortium for Professional Learning.

Contact me: info@infinitylearn.org

Facilitator; Glenda Stewart

Glenda is lead teacher affiliate to Infinity Learn Ltd.  She is an enthusiastic practicing school leader and teacher and has thoroughly enjoyed facilitating learning sessions for colleagues across NZ and Australia over recent years.  She is excited about our new way of using Learning Maps to flip the starting point, which puts the kids in the driver’s seat of their own learning with support from their families, teachers and leaders.   Glenda is passionate about active participation of all those groups to ensure all students are excited and make good progress in the way they learn, in their academic achievement and in their wellbeing.  Glenda’s support is invaluable to ensure students, teachers and parents decide for themselves what to change, what actions to take and what indicators of success look like.  She also has considerable expertise to concentrate specifically on the analysis and improvement of teacher practice.   Contact: info@infinitylearn.org

Facilitator, Kelly Layton

Kelly is a teacher affiliate to Infinity Learn Ltd.  Kelly loves her daily professional life with kids and families and immerses herself in the classroom and journeying out into community-based learning.  She quickly grasped the principles and practices of Learning and Change Networks and Learning Maps.  We invited Kelly to facilitate sessions to spread the Learning Maps.  Her practical explanations help grow understanding among the kids, teachers and families.  She can also tell stories and share real life examples that help people make sense of how the approach will work back in their schools and communities.  Contact: info@infinitylearn.org

Jean Annan (PhD), Researcher

Jean Annan (PhD) is a research and evaluation affiliate to Infinity Learn Ltd.  We needed to make sure that the Learning and Change Networks strategy and Learning Maps approach were researched before spreading them widely.  Jean’s research expertise and interest were perfect for that job.  Jean focuses on researching and evaluating the conditions that foster active, positive participation of young people and those who support them to cultivate helpful stories about learning and living.  Jean applies her research and evaluation in the areas of professional development, communities-of-practice and frameworks for understanding learning ecologies.  She also provides evaluative services to networks/clusters of schools and other organisations moving into collaborative arrangements. Jean is a registered psychologist who previously coordinated and taught the national educational psychology program at Massey University.  As a practicing psychologist and with her vast NZ and international experience, Jean can also work directly with children, their schools and families, lead traumatic incident response teams and conduct systems projects.

Contact me: info@infinitylearn.org  

Additional Sector Leaders

We also call on an extended group of affiliated leaders in the sector to deliver fit-for-purpose services.  These leaders are practice experts in a range of fields that support systems change in schools, social services and community organisations.