Sunday, 29 April 2007

Kolb's Learning Silo

I started sketching at the conference. Started thinking about the limitations of Kolb's reflective cycle.

Here's the point when I thought..well, his cycle assumes we all learn on our own when in's a social process - it should be a network, not a circle...

I thought how this really ought to work in relation to my work with staff - the fact that in order to support them probably, I should have a really good understanding of their practice. Then I thought...well understanding their practice involves understand the theory behind their practice. At the same time my practice should definitely be having an impact on their practice (if I'm doing my job successfully), and then I thought, well, actually, in order for them to undertstand what I'm trying to achieve, in order for my training to influence their practice they really need to understand where I'm coming from - staff need to understand more about the theory behind my practice. Only thing I missed off here is the link between my own theory and practice and their own theory and practice...the drawing should be squared off.

In relation to Kolb, and because drawing this in 3D would be pretty tough..I'm suggesting that theory = reflection + abstraction, practice = experimentation + action

Then I thought...well I'm sure staff see both their theory and their practice as influencing let's stick the students into this diagram....

I can't quite remember what I thought about next...but I know I drew and arrow to show there's a gap between the Learning Technologists and what they're doing and what the students are doing. I remember thinking about whether there should be a link between my own practice, and a students' practice. I'm not sure about resonsibilities are primarily towards the support of staff, not students.

At the time I made a note "need to fill in this gap I think". But now I'm not so sure.

Then I thought...well actually, lecturers theory and practice is very much influenced by subject matter experts. I know I am! And in fact - shouldn't students have access to the same SMEs? I drew this new thing (I decide it would be a bit too complicated to start drawing in all the other informal influences that takes place in our everyday lives, amongst family and friends, media).

Not sure if my practice and student practice should be joined still. What would this entail? Theory and practice of SMEs should influence my theory and practice. at the moment it's only theory that has an impact according to my diagram. Again, surely SMEs theory should influence student theory and practice. I didn't get around to drawing in this relationship either....

Diagram is starting to look a bit 3D here don't you think? a kind of pyramid..

Then I thought...where are we at the moment - how does this network look at the moment?

I came up with this. so many gaps! My theory and practice connect (increasingly so but even then, could be improved - a dotted line). Staff theory and practice closely related. My practice informs staff practice (but I'd say again this is a dotted line). staff practice informs students understanding of theory but does it really effect their practice? Well, yes perhaps within the university in the sense that students might learn skills relevant to their study but what about outside it? Do they live and breathe what they learn? I don't think so which is why I didn't connect staff practice and student practice. I think actually staff theory informs student theory..not sure why I didn't draw in this line. Student theory and practice - again should be a dotted line - takes time for students to see relationship between theory and practice. I'm only just getting to grips with it.

Not sure how useful all this is - how useful is it to work this out? Well, I suppose it's useful in the sense that I think as Learning Technologists, part of our role is looking at how learning technologies can support these networks, helping staff understand how we can create these. It's a key concept. Of which there are probably a few which at the moment we're not really communicating. At the moment we're just saying "here's how to upload a document" But the problem is that if the university as a whole doesn't support this approach, what does that mean for me?

It probably means I need to change my approach - and I need to know how much leeway I have in my role. I need to walk the talk, even if it's on a really small scale.

BUT the thing I need to remember as well, something I was reminded of by Stephen Downe's on his logical fallacies site, is that this needs to be done with sensitivity. You can't just storm in and reject everything that's gone before, everyone's existing ideas. Need to be gentle.


David Andrew said...

I like that a lot - it reminds me of some work that the critical-learning group did on reflection some time ago - I'm going to share it with them and see what they think. We thought that the separateness of the stages was problematic - particularly reflection which doesn't exist by itself. In our research on reflection we found that people who said that they found reflection important for learning were split - for some it was social for others it was solitary, they also differed on lots of other fundamental aspects too.

Celine said...

I've just had a chat with my brother about this - he's a researcher in maths and programming. He said that he finds his MA students spend much too long talking to each other about a problem and it hinders their progress. He finds that conversations don't help him work his way through problems.