The academic heritage of Learning Power and the Learning Journey Platform
In 2002 a team of researchers identified the seven dimensions of ‘learning power’ which enable people to learn.
The dimensions were not skills or competencies but holistic qualities or dispositions, all involving ‘thinking, feeling and doing’. The research team created and validated a survey tool that measured Learning Power (the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory or ELLI) giving people feedback on their strengths and weaknesses as learners.
Over the next decade, with skilled facilitation, this feedback was used by teachers, coaches and leaders around the world as a starting point for learning conversations and strategies for developing learning power, individually and collectively. This research into Learning Power at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol is the foundation on which the Learning Journey Platform is built.
In 2014, the Learning Emergence research team set about re-analysing the data sets which had been collected over 15 years, to test the model and explore particular hypotheses about learning power which had emerged from research and development over that time.
In this analysis, Resilience, which enables people to respond positively to challenge, risk and uncertainty, was identified as a more complex process that can’t be sufficiently measured by a single scale. Resilience requires learners to be self-aware and to take responsibility for their learning journey over time. This includes identifying and owning their purpose and finding ways of going about achieving it, particularly in the face of challenge and complexity and risk.
This combination of awareness, ownership and responsibility is what we mean by Agency and the significant need for Resilient Agency at every stage of a learning journey – from purpose to performance – called for the development of a new, scientifically rigorous instrument known as the Learning for Resilient Agency Self-Assessment.
A more robust set of measures
Structural equation modeling produced a more robust set of measures, with fewer survey questions. It enabled the Learning Emergence research team to explore the internal structure of learning power, looking more carefully at the relationships between the different dimensions and between the constructs making up each of them.
A new dimension, Mindful Agency, is found to be a key element of learning power which predicts creativity, sense-making, curiosity and hope. Learning Relationships has, in fact, two distinct aspects: collaboration and belonging. An eighth measure, Orientation to Learning, reflects an emotional state towards learning, whose optimum varies according to context and lies somewhere between the two extremes of ‘Rigid Persistence’ on the one hand and ‘Dependent Fragility’ on the other.
Both extremes may be appropriate in some contexts (for example undergoing an operation on the one hand or pioneering in challenging circumstances on the other), however it is more productive, in learning, to maintain a healthy tension between fragility and persistence and remain open and ready to respond to challenge and change.
The purpose of the Learning Journey Platform is to provide individuals, groups and systems with a robust and accurate self-report of their levels of Learning Power, combined with deeper insight into the power of learning to sustain human agency in the face of the 21st Century conditions of ambiguity, uncertainty and doubt.
The Learning Journey Platform is a practical online learning analytic designed to stimulate improvement in learning and performance through rapid feedback of data to individuals, teams and organizations. It is also subject to the rigorous quality of social science research in terms of reliability, validity, trustworthiness and authenticity.
It measures the ways in which individuals regulate the flow of energy and information over time in order to achieve a particular purpose – their Learning Power.
This is a necessary but not sufficient part of a learning journey which moves from purpose to performance over time, fueled by learning power and the process of structuring and re-structuring knowledge.
The Learning Journey Platform enables individuals and teams to reflect ‘backwards’ towards identity and purpose and to navigate ‘forwards’ to the achievement of purpose through knowledge structuring and problem solving. All stations of the learning journey are important in learning design and in becoming a resilient learner.
Learning journeys are ‘fractal’: they follow recognisable patterns at all levels in organisations : i.e. among students and employees, among teachers and managers and among leaders and policy makers.
They provide feedback and feed-forward loops for all processes in both individual and organizational development and performance. Becoming better at making sense of and responding to the rapid flow of data and energy, which we all encounter all the time, is important for leadership and innovation.
The Learning Power dimensions are personal qualities that can be developed and which reflect how people view themselves. We see them as constructs that have an emergent pole (usually positive) and a contrast pole (often negative for learning).
The eighth dimension is an emotional orientation towards new learning opportunities that reflects the degree of trust and readiness a person experiences in a particular context – a necessary pre-requisite for developing resilience in a learning journey from purpose to performance.