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Fig. 1. Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ reversioned.
I did something …
This is my take on Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ which I will use to explore what I ‘did’. I ran a creative problem solving workshop. The motivation for attendees was to pick up some creative problem solving techniques, to solve a problem we had with using social media and to do some team building. The objective for me was to crack this problem and to introduce a more creative and collaborative approach to problem solving.
Fig. 2. Coach to Olympians running a workshop – part class, part ‘pool side’
I couldn’t help but draw on experience as a Club Swimming Coach planning programmes of swimming for a squad swimmers and as the ‘workforce development’ running training programmes for our club’s teachers and coaches. Planning and preparation when you are putting athletes in the pool several times a week over months is vital. On a smaller scale this workshop required a schedule, to the minute, with some contingency, allowing you to build in flexibility for both content and timings.
Fig. 3. Planned to the minute – my creative problem solving workshop
The plan was for five to six creative problem solving techniques to be used, top and tailed by, using terms from swimming, a ‘warm up’ and a ‘warm down’. The modus operandi of the Residential School had been to introduce, experience and play with as many creative problem solving techniques as possible.
Fig. 4. As a prop, food and aid memoir a bunch of bananas has multiple uses
‘Bunch of Bananas’ is a creative problem solving technique that suggests that you include in the group a ‘plant’ – a person over whom other’s will slip, like the proverbial banana. My take on this was to introduce two outsiders – a Russian academic who would bring a different take on things and the a mathematician and senior programmer.
Fig. 5. ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’ is a great warm up, while stretching like an Olympic swimmer was an apt ‘warm down’ at the end of the session.
We did a warm up called ‘Mother-in-law, Samurai, Tiger’. This is the team equivalent of ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’ where two teams face each other and on the count of three, having agreed what their response would as a team, they either ‘Tut-tut’ and wag their finger like a mother-in-law, ‘growl’ and get their claws out like a Tiger, or shout ‘ha!’ while posing like a Samurai warrior brandishing his sword. This is the ‘warm down’ to stick with the swimming coaching metaphor was to have participants get into the ‘streamlined’ position that swimmers adopt – essentially a stretching exercise.
Fig. 6. Human Sculpture and Timeline are useful ways to have people look at and feel a problem in a different way and from a different angle.
In between we did a mixture of physical and mental activities, including Human Sculpture where one person becomes the sculptor and uses everyone else to form a tableau or sculpture that expresses their talk on the problem. Another was timeline where you imagine looking at the problem from the perspective of the past and future.
Now, stand back …
Standing back I’d say that running a workshop for colleagues has advantages and disadvantages. How would a director or line manager feel about their views being exposed like this. On the other hand if well managed it becomes a team building exercise too.
The challenge is to know what risks to take and how to build in flexibility, not just in timing, but in the kind of activities. This requires that despite the plan you are alert to signals that suggest an activity should be developed or dropped.
Workshops and seminars I take have a common element – there is ‘hands on’ activity.
The goal is that at the end of the session people feel confident that they could do these things themselves. I’m less comfortable about teaching where the communication is one way – me talking and them taking notes. I value encouraging self-discover and people being on their feet, interacting and having fun.
The workshop was experiential
It was collaborative and iterative, it was problem-based learning that used communication skills.
How did you feel about that ?
Fig. 7. How we like to be ‘in the flow’ rather either bored or stressed from being too challenged. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975) Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level.
I felt ‘in the flow’ for most of the time, suitably challenged and never bored. Though anxious and surprised when a colleague gave me a drubbing the day after feeling that they had been tricked into attending. This came as a surprise, the other surprise was how away from their desk and computers the apparently introverted could become so animated and responsive.
I felt like a party planner. I was hosting an event. The atmosphere of controlled enthusiasm would be down to me. I would be, to use a French expression, the ‘animateur’ or ‘realisateur’ – the one who would make this happen and bring it to life.
Fig. 8. For all the playful activities, we are still reliant on Post It Notes and flip charts
Now what ?
On this occasion we delivered a couple of distinct responses to the problem. People reflected on the experienced and felt it was both enjoyable and of practical value. The request was not that others would host such an exercise, but that I would do more. I was subsequently booked to run a few more workshops on specific topics with different groups in the faculty. The question that we couldn’t resolve was whether were a ‘creative organisation’ ? My own conclusion being that we quite palpably were not.
Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2
Experiential learning theory. (Available from http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/gibbs/ch2.htm. Accessed 22FEB14)
Gundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Te hniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57
Henry, J and the course team (2006, 2010) ‘Creativity, Cognition and Development” Book 1 B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change.
Henry, J (2010) ‘Set Breakers’ Henry (P. 96)
Kolb, D.A. 1984 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
McCaskey, M.B. (1988) ‘The challenge of managing ambiguity’, in Pondy, L.R, Boland, R.J and Thomas, H (eds) Managing Ambiguity and Change, new York, pp 2-11
Henry, J & Martin J (2010) Book 2 Managing Problems Creatively
Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith
Tassoul, M, & Buijs, J ( 2007, )’Clustering: An Essential Step from Diverging to Converging’, Creativity & Innovation Management, 16, 1, pp. 16-26, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 February 2014.
Challenged over the last couple of weeks to create a 10 minute presentation as part of the Open University postgraduate module H818:The Networked Practitioner (part of the Masters in Open and Distance Education) I’ve barely had time to reflect on this experience when I find for Oxford Brookes University I am creating a 5 minute presentation as part of their online course First Steps into Learning and Teaching 2014 (FSLT14).
A 5 minute presentation takes twice as long to write than a 10 minute presentation.
Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. Blaise Pascal
I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
Anything less than a minute is a TV commercial and might take months to get right.
I’ve known this ever since I took an interest in working in TV (Drama short on Channel 4, otherwise 150+ videos in L&D)
I am at least starting to get the tools I use to sing:
- Picasa for my cloud based albums of pictures
- Brushes to layer images
- Studio to turn images into graphics
Both these for the iPad (I love the tactile)
My issue with the FSLT 14 brief concerns the assumption that a non-wordy presentation – PowerPoint has been banned, any text may only appear on the overlay – is that the first, second and third rule of any ‘audio visual’ presentation such as this is (to quote Alfred Hitchcock):
‘the script, the script, the script’.
You have to write words to rationalise and order the visual.
You write a script in two columns: one describes what you see (the most important), the second what you hear (which is likely to be the spoken, or acted word – as well as sound effects and music).
This format works
Anyone familiar with a screenplay or TV script will be as capable of reading such a script and seeing that happens as a conductor can read a score and hear the music.
It remains word heavy.
Galleries of images and instant search for images is both distracting and limiting. They encourage the ‘creative’ to shoehorn inappropriate, compromise and copyright images into their work.
Far better, not that I’m about to do it, is to stick to the words in the script (easily edited and re-written for effect) and at most doodle an impression of an image: I like using a drawing pen on a large sheet of cartridge paper, though a stylus on the screen of an iPad might do.
So, I’m locked down in ‘writing mode’ at the best time of the day on the best day of the week – early on Sunday morning.
And I’m sharing this practice online. Though currently my expectation of feedback is limited. I miss the way were over a decade ago writing in Diaryland. Feedback guaranteed on the 24 hour cycle as fellow bloggers picked it up around the globe. I know what’s happened, and this blog is testament to that given that I transferred content from 1999-2004 to this space – I have spread myself too thinly.
Who knows what I am writing about anymore?
In this first years it was a balance of writing and the personal following authors who did the same and that group of us who were ‘always there for each other’ had one thing in common – the desire to develop a ‘voice’ and have stories to share.
It may only be five minutes, but I need at least to remember that this is a story – that above anything else, narrative works. The ten minuter I completed and presented earlier this week was too worthy, too explanatory. Let’s see if I can evoke the feelings that came from the workshop I ran:
Let’s also see if I can write what in my heart I want to say, rather than trying to write what anonymous others expect to hear. I do so loathe guides on assignment marking which can reduce something exploratory, that should have momentum and flow, into a ‘tick box exercise’.
And the first thing I do?
I turn to Brushes and draw my own graphic and will see if I can, like Julian Stodd, settle on a graphics style rather than relying on images purged from the Web. I want to use my own photos, but this too requires that I take pictures that deliver the right message.
A couple of hours later I have this. And on reflection, prefer the process of devising your own take on someone else’s graphic, just as one ought not to quote verbatim from other authors, but interpret your take and understanding of their thinking.
Argyris, C, & Schön, D (2007) ‘Organizational Learning’, Bloomsbury Business Library – Management Library, p. 78, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 February 2014.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
James Atherton http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm
Ed Batista http://www.edbatista.com/2007/10/experiential.html
Roger Greenaway http://reviewing.co.uk/research/experiential.learning.htm#3
I often share a post I am writing as I do so. In this case having identified the story to tell : running a workshop to solve a ‘messy’ business problem I am pulling together or creating supporting images, in the above case a grab and mashup from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ – my goal is to be recognised as one. In a forum post as an Open University ‘Master of arts in Open and Distance Education’ (I graduated in early 2013) I suggested this could be achieved in four years – John Seely Brown thinks that eLearning speeds things up, while Weller reckons on ten years.
Fig.1. Rescue having failed a 4 tonne whale is dragged from Stinson Beach.
As a student on Oxford Brookes University’s online course ‘First Steps into Teaching and Learning 2014’ here in week 4 we have been challenged to consider an experience from teaching or being taught and in a five minute presentation reflect on this.
My interest is teaching postgraduates and/or ‘in the workplace’.
I should be feeling I’ve stumbled into the right time and place with this one having just given a ten minute presentation online as part of the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education module H818: The Networked Practitioner, however with that one, despite every expectation to exploit my love of and experience with linear and interactive media I resorted to a Powerpoint. I needed to improve the script up to the line and this offered the flexibility I could not have had with a Prezi or video. There were too many cumbersome technical barriers and trips that I wasn’t happy to pursue or risk.
What I’m doing here is thinking through a presentation I need to prepare. Sharing this, if and where feedback can be garnered, then informs the decisions I take.
My immediate idea, often my best, is to do a selfie-video talking to camera while hurtling around a roller-coaster at Thorp Park. It would sum up the terror, thrill, highs and lows of taking a day long workshop with a class of some 40 year 9s (12/13 year olds) in a secondary school that had/has a checkered history.
The second idea, to change the setting radically, would be a workshop with nine on creative problem solving – the objective was to come up with answers to a messy problem, though the motivation to be present for most was to experience a variety of creative problem solving activities that I had lined up. This nine in an organisation, included MBAs, prospective MBAs, a senior lecture, junior and senior managers and officers: colleagues and invited guests from different departments. This example is probably the most appropriate.
A third might be something I attended as a student – apt because doing this in 2009/2010 in part stimulated me to take an interest in learning: I wanted to know what was going wrong. Here we had prospective club swimming coaches doing everything that was unnatural to them – working from a hefty tome of paper, sitting through a lecture/seminar and expecting assessment to be achieved by filling in the blanks on course sheet handouts. This from people with few exceptions who left school with few or no qualifications – often troubled by Dyslexia. They were swimming coaches to dodge this very kind of experience. It was, you could tell, hell for some. The misalignment could not have been greater. Here the immediate visual image, apt given the subject matter, would be to watch a fish out of water drown – or nearly drown and be rescued. What really grated for me in this course was the rubbish that was taught – too many gross simplifications and spurious science.
Based on the above I should challenge myself to do the video as I need to crack loading and editing. The fish out of water, whale actually, I can illustrate from photographs and the experience this summer of being present as a 4 tonne whale beached and drowned on Stinson Beach, California (See Fig.1. above).
Fig.1. Building Construction W B McKay 1943
Are you the learning architect or the learning builder?
It is flattering to the group from Learning & Development that they can be likened to architects. Whilst many will have a degree, some don’t – whilst some may have a post graduate qualification, very few do. None I’m sure will have spent six or seven years in formal study that has lead to recognition by the Royal College of E-Learning Designers – there is no such professional qualification, nor is there any period of formal study, a mix of studio work and academic research, that leads to a qualification of this calibre.
The exceptions are those with first degrees and MBAs and at the pinnacle of this discussion, Christopher Alexander who has first and second degrees from Cambridge and a PhD in architecture from Harvard.
Many in academia have the second degree and PhD – but they generally lack the experience designing learning outside undergraduate and postgraduate tertiary education, which is quite a diffderent beast to the short courses and continual professional development desired in the workplace.
If I were to take the building trade by way of an analogy I would say that the learning and development manager is the client – while the architect is an agent or agency that you hire in for their design expertise and knowledge of foremen and project managers, builders and electrcians – the project leaders, programmers and art directos of e-learning creation.
The L&D manager may be a subject matter expert but is far more likely to draw upon expertise from within their organisation.
Which of the following made the biggest contribution to your learning when you first set out in your current career asked Clive Shepherd?
Fig.2. What has contributed most to your learning?
This depends of course on when a person knew they were set on a career path.
How many people come into Learning & Development (L&D) having decided on this path as an undergraduate?
As a graduate trainee I expected a mix of on the job and formal training – this mix turned out to be around 95% to 5% while contemporaries elsewhere were getting 50/50 of none at all. This is the formal way of graduate training and can last two or three years. Think of lawyers (barristers and trainee solicitors), accounts, bankers and teachers … doctors, dentists, vets and architects.
Away from the presentation I like to click around as for me to understand a concept it helps to perceive its inception.
In turn, if you check the references for Jay Cross’s 2006 ‘Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance’ you’ll find where his ideas may have came from – Robert A Heinlein (1961) ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ and R Nelson Bolles (2005) ‘What Color’s Your Parachute’ are there along with John Seely Brown (2005) ‘The Only Sustainable Edge’.
There are some inspirational ideas and link here:
Workflow learning ties learning into the actual workflow within an organisation. According to Jay Cross it takes us to support and on-demand services that are designed to exist within the real tasks we do in our everyday work.Out of this work on workflow learning came an even wider, and what he regards as more important set of reflections.
Fig.3. Zoom.It History of Corporate Education.
This timelines the history of corporate and executive training. It is like a touch-screen and zoome control all in one. The Bayeux Tapestry in digital form (now there’s an idea over 900 years old). I spotted a typo – you’ll find it says something about ‘Toyota: Clean Production’ rather than Lean Production. We should consider the content in other ways – I know a PLC that set up an internal ‘university’ in the mid 1970s – or maybe they called in a training centre. Same difference?
If Clive Shepherd got his idea of the learning architect from Jay Cross I imagine Jay Cross in turn got the idea from a Christopher Alexander.
Christopher Alexander’s Notes on the Synthesis of Form was required reading for researchers in computer science throughout the 1960s. It had an influence in the 1960s and 1970s on programming language design, modular programming, object-oriented programming, software engineering and other design methodologies. He is cited through-out the Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) as an originator of design practice that was applied to computer design and therefore could be applied to e-learning design.
Here’s the education of someone who can rightfully call themselves an architect and do so in the context of learning, even of e-learning.
In 1954, Christopher Alexander was awarded the top open scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge University in chemistry and physics, and went on to read mathematics. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Mathematics. He took his doctorate at Harvard (the first Ph.D. in Architecture ever awarded at Harvard University), and was elected fellow at Harvard. During the same period he worked at MIT in transportation theory and in computer science, and worked at Harvard in cognition and cognitive studies.
Fig.4. The Timeless Way of Building
‘The Timeless Way of Building’ proposes a new theory of architecture (and design in general) that relies on the understanding and configuration of design patterns.It is these design patterns that came to the attention of creators of e-learning modules in the 21st century, the idea that designs for subjects or cohorts might be replicated and shared across the online learning community so that you might say a fits an undergraduate arts course, while b is the model for a health & safety module in industry, c gives you language learning in primary school while d offers an elective in urology to 4th year medical students.
To become an architect requires a considerable commitment.
Take the three year undergraduate course in architecture at the University of Cambridge
Entry Requirements: A* AA : Likely to include Maths and Art or History of Art.
Students may stay on at Cambridge to complete an MPhil at RSA exams to qualify in six years (this includes a year in a placement)
‘The three year BA(Hons) course is unusual in the University in combining both arts and sciences. As such it provides a unique range of skills which lead to a wide range of careers, not just architecture’.
Throughout the BA tripos studio work carries 60% of the marks.
The remaining 40% is made up from exams and other forms of coursework (dissertations, etc). Studiowork in all years is handed in for marking at the end of the year. Studiowork is time-consuming and probably requires more hours per week than any other course in the University. Students are also expected to work during the Christmas and Easter vacations.
I labour this point because as someone who has gone from corporate communications and video based training to computer based training and e-learning I would never liken myself to a cardiologist, even a qualified lawyer or certified accountant, let alone an architect. An educator perhaps, but I don’t have a formal teaching qualificaiton, only sports coaching and the MAODE when I graduate early next year.
Fig. 5. BRICKS – Building Construction W B McKay 1943
Several other analogies have been used in the e-learning literature, some that still have a building or architecture theme to them.
What we get here is learning design broken down to brick sized components, some call them ‘interactivities’ (a term I often here working in a design agency). I find the idea of atoms in a chemical reaction (Wiley, 2001) too small, even if we are dealing with binary code it isn’t something that we see anymore. Gilly Salmon (2002) would have liked ‘e-tivities’ to catch on – she puts these in a logical sequence, building blocks towards a module. At the Open University they tend to be called ‘Learning Objects’. Chris Pegler (2004) finds this too static and unresponsive preferring if we go with the Lego analogy, or Technics. Littlejohn et al (2008) describe these components as:
Digital assets – a single item, image, video or podcast or an nformation objects: a structured aggregation of digital assets designed purely to present information.
Learning activities -tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome.
Learning design – structured sequences of information and learning activities to promote learning.
Fig. 5. BRICKS – Building Construction W B McKay 1943
For pure aspiration I like the digital architect as a goal for an undergraduate setting out on a long course of formal and applied study. L&D directors and managers approach an e-learnign agency as they would a firm of architects and together they write a brief. This is propoposed, scheduled and costed then a scheme of work begins.
The delivery, depending on the scale of it, might be akin to anything from a brick arcade (health and safety induction to leisure staff) to a bungalow to a housing estate (induction of trainee solicitors in an national firm of solictors), an office block or a factory (long term management development for an international engineering business).
Alexander, C (1970) The Timeless Way of Buidling
Cross, J (2006) The Informal Learner
Downes, S (2000) Learning Objects. Available from http://www.newstrolls.com/news/dev/downes/col;umn000523_1.htm
Littlejohn, Falconer, Mcgill (2008) Characterising effective eLearning (sic) resources
Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.
Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities
Shepherd, C (2011) The New Learning Architext
Wiley, D.A. (2000) Connecting Learning Objects to instructional design theory: a definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D.A. Wiley (ed), The instructional use of Learning Objects. Available from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/wiley.doc