Monthly Archives: June 2015

Innovative Learning in Canadian Higher Education

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April’s DwD was convened by an graduate student-led panel, organized by Strategic Innovation Lab and Strategic Foresight & Innovation, responding to the question:

What new ways of learning, particularly in higher education, will Canadians need to thrive in an evolving society and labour market?

The roundtable and dialogue was sponsored by Imagining Canada’s Future, the strategic development of next-generation social science for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) with the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

This question was one of their key Future Challenge Areas. The SFI team documented the session and prepared a report for CAGS and SSHRC. This report is now available to the public, linked here and titled Innovating Canada’s Higher Education.

Canada, like many other countries, is at a tipping point in the way its education system, especially higher education, is conceptualized, structured and delivered in light of the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century. The panel discussed and explored the following issues:

  • What knowledge, skills and delivery methods are required in order for the public education system to create an innovative, resilient and culturally rich society?
  • What aspirations and expectations will a diverse and global citizenry bring to the work environments, jobs and labour markets of the future?
  • What conditions are needed for new models of research—particularly, co‑creation of knowledge with the public, private and/or not‑for‑profit sectors—to flourish?
  • What roles will emerging and/or disruptive information and communication technologies play in learning for individuals, institutions and society?
  • What role should individuals, institutions and governments play in promoting and supporting the life cycle of knowledge—including creation, accessibility, retention and mobilization—across sectors, both domestically and internationally?
  • How can we harness Canada’s strength and innovation in the arts, digital media and cultural industries to build social, economic and cultural well‑being?

Panel and workshop photo-documented by SFI student George Wang.

Panel1

 

SFI graduate student panelists opening the first part of the event.

audience1

 

 

Table4

 

Tables were convened by graduate student panelists for each of the main questions.

Boards

 

 

Responses to each table’s question captured on standing boards.

FinalSketch

 

 

Graphical recordings by SFI students Maggie Greyson and Ana Matic during panel and in closing plenary.

The final report is now available here, and was delivered to very positive response by CAGS and SSHRC, especially for its vivid capture of the innovative process and the visual approach to communicating the results of the civic dialogue.

The convening team had suggested some related readings for members of the panel and public:

Joseph Wilson on learning: ‘People are envious of what we’re doing in education’ (or any of the Possible Canadas articles)

Democracy Hacks  was recommended as a relevant podcast.

The Governor General David Johnston has been advocating rethinking education, and this may be his legacy for Canada in 2017.

A pan-Canadian joint undergraduate degree is taking shape: Pan-Canadian University

Slow Learning, a site presenting critical visions for self-directed, community learning

 

HOSTED BY THE SFI DIALOGUE TEAM

Inessa Chapira
Christina Doyle
Maggie Greyson
Conor Holler
Goran Matic
Corey Norman
Adrienne Pacini
Sheldon Pereira
Patrick Robinson
Peter Scott
Jacqueline To
Ryan Voisin
George Wang
with faculty advisor Peter Jones

sLab+sshrc

 

 

 

Strategic Learning: Personal innovation in a fluid environment

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How might we enhance our experience of learning to accord with personal or professional strategy?

Can we strategically direct our learning individually and together to adapt and lead through a changing world?

June’s DwD was hosted by Donald Officer, delving into a shared inquiry and practices toward discovery of our personal lifetime learning potentials.  Strategic learning can be viewed as choosing what we specifically need to know and practice to reach goals and commitments, during a time when traditional practices of learning are themselves in the midst of change.

Learning practices have become diffused, breaking boundaries of media and form, and can be seen as chaotically disruptive. Universities have launched MOOCs of their top professor’s courses, diploma mills have gone online, and students become debt burdened in pursuit of formal educations that may be obsolete before program completion. Training, facilitating, coaching abound.

Each of us has the opportunity to remake ourselves in a serious powerful way while connecting with others to make massive significant change. To do this we have to realize something so obvious it’s as invisible as the air we breathe.

June.CIrcle

 

The session further developed ideas in small group exercises and open reflective dialogue:

  • Recrafting personal mission statements to build transformative learning
  • Learning for them versus learning for you – no, it isn’t self indulgent
  • Ways we learn that schools won’t acknowledge and what to do about it.
  • Just in time, just in case and just because we feel like it
  • Necessity not curriculum is the mother of invention
  • Learning to think strategically (and save yourself from the planners)
  • Powerful media (new and old) tools we all can access
  • How to curate your own learning space

 

 

 

Informal like strategic learning is by nature non-linear. During the June DwD workshop we made some important connections while many more remained implicit. Don provides further context:

Microlearning Experiential learning and neuroscience: The neuroscience lies in the way we both construct new associations on the neural framework of existing linkages and also on the way the brain becomes more fully engaged via novelty, especially confronting potential threats. A little danger is a learning thing. The inner game: Timothy Gallwey’s approach to learning as evidenced in his inner game books, is to bring the routine into focus as though it were novel, since we never intentionally change what we do not take note of. Meaningful deliberate change starts with reflection and then proceeds to the rallying of motivation.

Metalearning Building a self: we touched on this only lightly and indirectly in the workshop. The simple definition of metalearning is learning how to learn which, presumably, leads to a helpful form of self knowledge. See also learning curation. At greater length we discussed surfing and diving, a fairly intuitive double metaphor to, on the one hand, approach information or data that requires little analysis before it presents its meaning versus delving deep into interpretation which on the other hand, demands murky speculation before it offers up meaningful results.

Learning curation did not really get discussed. This concept comprises everything from scrapbooks to blogs, always implying significantly more. It includes live links, all manner of graphic representation, wikis, webinars, contact lists, notes in any form or whatever else keys into learning touchstones that might in the manner of a museum diorama grow into an entire expanse or long thick thread of knowledge.

Informal learning model (diagram and discussion)- During the session we briefly examined an experiential learning diagram of David Kolb’s 4 point Concrete Experience through Active Experimentation model. Kolb’s representation resonates with neuro-scientific research shown below as is Julia Sloan’s dynamic 3 step Strategic Thinking model (Preparation, Experience and Re-evaluation). In the full version, arrows and the rectangle connect by multiple feedback loops while a series of curved arrows represents turbulence and resolution within the Experience phase. Both depict change models alluding to cognitive and affective challenges as well as conflicting mindsets or paradigms , but to be precise, both operate more from a learning perspective than from a general psychological framework.

 

Triangulation to assess informal or strategic learning – was suggested as a form of disconfirming heuristic. The idea is that without the more familiar landmarks of formal knowledge the informal learner might test a particular learning against intuitive, perceptual and reasoned benchmarks. These modes are not infallible even in concert of course, but might very well keep the learner focussed and oriented on the bigger picture until the landscape better defines itself.

 

June.Pres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2 in DwD Series on New Learning: Paths to Discovery

An evolving bibliography and references

  • Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, & Social Criticism by Stanley Aronowitz and Henry A. Giroux; University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis, 1991.
  • Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance by Jay Cross; Pfeiffer (John Wiley &Sons); San Francisco, 2007.
  • The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Learning, Pleasure and Mobility in the Workplace by W. Timothy Gallwey; Random House; New York, 2000.
  • Learning to Think Strategically: Second Edition by Julia Sloan; Routledge; London and New York, 2014.
  • Infed – The website on Informal Education (highly recommended)

 

About the Host

Donald R. Officer has been a writer, planner, communicator, management consultant and educator for over three decades. Persistently seeking better ways to approach the fuvaluesture and how to live there, he has become a strong advocate for a major rethinking about our ideas on innovation. Don’s recent career as life coach has launched a serious innovative rethinking of his own life and the meaning of learning and professional practice, insights which he shares with DwD in this session.

DonO

Don has written articles for newspapers, journals and magazines and edited policy papers, newsletters and on-line forums. He continues to review books and write articles on many social change topics, especially strategic thinking,for magazines and his blog, The Intention Coach.  Meanwhile he continues to toil away writing longer works on psychology and education. These are destined for wider publication.