28 01, 2020

Self Leadership and Learning Power: the invisible challenge

By |2020-09-11T15:35:40+00:00January 28th, 2020|Categories: Inside out change|

‘Susan’ is a young person in full time education. She seems content, she’s got friends inside and outside of her place of learning and she’s not attracting any attention to herself – either negative or positive.  She’s capable and well able to get by, particularly when the rules of engagement are clear.

The Invisible Learning Challenge: Susan’s Learning Power Profile

So what’s the invisible challenge?

We can see from her Learning Power Profile that she tends to ‘give up’ when the going gets tough. Or when she doesn’t know what to do. At the moment this is not causing any concern – apart from some punctuality issues – she seems to be doing fine.

But this won’t help  when she needs to come up with  her own ideas and develop Self Leadership. Self-Leadership through self-directed directed learning should be a focus of all learning institutions as a 21st Century competence. In the workplace it’s pretty critical for managing inevitable, ongoing change and developing innovative work cultures.

So how might we support Susan in getting ‘challenge ready’?

A Learning Conversation firstly looks ‘inwards’. Does my profile ring true? How does it connect to my experience? Can I tell my personal learning story so that this makes sense?  Secondly it looks ‘outwards’: how can I decide on what and how to change? How can I use my learning power strengths to develop an effective response to challenge, risk and uncertainty? Who can I call upon to help me?

If I were the learning coach for this young person (or older person in the workplace) here are three Next Best Questions that I would consider using, once I’d established a safe space and a trusting relationship.

      • Can you tell me a story from your recent experience that helps you understand your Learning Power Profile?
      • What would it feel like to ‘show up’ and present your ideas and questions in your group?
      • What project are you currently working on, that you care about, that would provide a context for you to practice your Self-Leadership and use your Learning Power to construct a unique contribution that matters?

This profile was the focus for our virtual ZoomLearns every Tuesday 0930 GMT. For more info and a link contact info@jearni.co  or join in our #Jearnichat on twitter on Wednesdays 1830 GMT.


3 10, 2019

Why Inside Out Learning is better than Top Down?

By |2019-10-21T20:28:13+00:00October 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|

Why Inside Out Learning is better than Top Down

Whether it’s a training course or a school curriculum, just ‘delivering the goods’ doesn’t cut it for learning professionals. And it frequently doesn’t cut it for those on the receiving end – the people doing the learning.

Learning and change is a complex – and a complex system that depends on external control is not sustainable, precisely because when the external controls lose their power – or relevance – the system collapses. What’s required is internally motivated evolutionary learning and change at all levels.

Research shows unequivocally that ‘top down’ high stakes assessments actually depress motivation for learning, impacting negatively on people’s sense of identity, self-efficacy and agency. And it’s the learning designers as much as the learners themselves who are impacted – they teach to the ‘test’ and ‘cover the curriculum’ rather than design and adapt to the purposes and needs of their learners: their professional judgement is inhibited.

This is why we tend to associate the word ‘learning’ with formal education, with classrooms or training events. It’s about acquiring new knowledge or learning how to do something. It’s split off from the authentic world of the learner – separated from the ‘job to be done’.

But to flourish in conditions of radical uncertainty – such as life as we now experience it – we need a much richer and more fluid understanding of learning. Regulatory frameworks or prescribed curricula are not enough to fuel innovation, changed mindsets and personal or social transformation or behaviour change. There’s so much overflowing data out there that what matters is our ability to collect, curate and use the information we need to achieve a meaningful purpose.

What if we could design learning from the inside out?

Human beings are complex systems in their own right and they relate to other humans in ever more complex networks of relationships.  If we start from the inside of the person, of the team or the organisation, then we have to start with purpose. And purpose is closely related to our identity – our sense of Self.

Dimensions of Learning Power

Learning Power for Purpose Definition and Knowledge Building

Purpose is the starting point for learning design.  As Neitschze said ‘he who has a Why to live can cope with any How’. Uncovering, exploring and firming up a purpose for change (or learning) is the antidote to ‘just delivering the goods’.  Actually, it’s harder than it might seem – particularly when we’re not used to exercising autonomy or self-leadership.  Sometimes it’s easier to allow yourself or your team to be ‘done to’ and not have to find the energy and agency to engage.

Finding and articulating a purpose means we have to ask the question – what really matters to me?  Or what matters to our team?  Or what matters in our business?  This is the starting point for any authentic self-directed learning journey.

It’s a question of value – it requires Mindful Agency and all the dimensions of learning power – creativity, curiosity, belonging, collaboration, hope and optimism and sense making.  And of course – sufficient openness to change to lean into the inevitable vulnerability and challenge.

Once we’ve articulated and embraced a sense of purpose in learning – using our learning power – we’re then in a position to begin understanding our problem space and the challenges we face.  We can begin collecting, curating and working with relevant ideas, data and information we need to achieve that purpose.  And once we’ve achieved it – we can evaluate performance using ‘fit for purpose’ measures.

These are the elements of learning as a journey which provide a framework for learning how to learn and for designing inside-out learning experiences for others.

Learning power is a useful way of linking the inside with the outside.  By being Mindful about ‘why?’ we have to look inside, listen to our stories and the stories of those around us in order to formulate a purpose.  But Mindful Agency is also about figuring out how to go about achieving that purpose and managing the emotions, processes and challenges along the way.  Being the pilot and not the passenger!

Three reasons why inside out learning is important

1. It’s purpose driven.

People don’t learn and change unless they have a reason to do so – a purpose that matters.

2. It’s sustainable.

systems which depend on external control are not sustainable.

3. It’s ethical.

It operates at individual, team and organisational levels and creates space for conversations about values and shared purpose.

22 09, 2019

Self-Directed Student Learning: A Digital Learning Infrastructure for self-directed learning

By |2019-10-21T20:26:03+00:00September 22nd, 2019|Categories: Blog|

Self-Directed Student Learning:

A Digital Learning Infrastructure for self-directed learning

Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important capabilities for thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.i These are not traditionally developed through legacy learning and development systems (human or digital) because they require real-world, purposeful problems and contexts, the ability to work across silos, new measurement models and courageous leadership. Learning design for teachers is about creating the conditions where students can take responsibility for their own learning by invoking their own passion and purpose and the agency to pursue these through a learning journey in contexts where the outcome is not known in advance.

What are we measuring?

The most important unit of change is the story and identity of the learner – not the teacher, the curriculum or the measurement model. Legacy systems tend to privilege the content of the curriculum, a reductionist measurement model and the teacher as agent of change. The challenge for learning analytics is to build a digital infrastructure based on a data architecture which provides a ‘single view of the learner’, where data belongs to the learner and can be used, one student at a time, across transitions, and in real-time, for better decision-making as they navigate their way through complex problems to solutions that matter to them. This is sometimes described as a call to move towards Education 3.0 – a challenging worldview shift from a top down, individualist and dualistic worldview (Education 1.0) towards an integral, participatory and wholistic one. For a discussion about these ideas see the first Handbook for Learning Analytics and a chapter called Layers, Loops and Processes. i

i Crick, R. 2017, ‘Learning Analytics: Layers, Loops and Processes in a Virtual Learning Infrastructure’ , in G. Siemens & C. Lang (eds), Handbook of Learning Analytics & Educational Data Mining 1st edn, Society of Learning Analytics Research, SOLAR, pp. 291-307

The Learning Journey Platform

The purpose of the Learning Journey Platform is to enhance self-directed learning capabilities, and thus the resilient agency, of students, teachers and leaders and schools across the world. It provides scaffolding support for people in authentic enquiry learning journeys which contribute measurably to data-informed local solutions that matter and empower self-directed, resilient learners. ‘Learning Power’ is a term which describes this approach. i Resilient people are a pre-requisite for resilient and sustainable practices at all levels of society. See this link for an introduction.

i Deakin Crick, R., Huang, S., Ahmed Shafi, A. & Goldspink, C. 2015, ‘Developing Resilient Agency in Learning: The Internal Structure of Learning Power’, British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 121-60.

Loops – feedback and feedforward

Rapid feedback of meaningful data is key to enhancing self-directed learning. The Learning Journey Platform hosts the CLARA learning power assessment tool, the TESA teacher development tool for pedagogy which supports deep student engagement and Angela Duckworth’s GRIT survey. Feedback to the user is immediate and provides a framework for reflection – ‘backwards’ towards identity and purpose and ‘forwards’ to a particular purposeful outcome.

The Learning Journey Platform aggregates anonymised data in real time for coaches, teachers and leaders to interrogate in different ways. This capability is possible because of the underlying data architecture which allows for a ‘single view of the learner’. The data belongs to the learner and they can take their learning journeys with them from school to school and on to University and into the work place.

Processes – the learning journey

A key design principle underpinning the Learning Journey Platform is that learning is a journey that begins with a purpose and moves towards an outcome or ‘performance’ of some sort. When a student defines and owns their own purpose – the why – they are at the beginning of resilient agency. They need to use their learning dispositions – their learning power – to understand themselves as learners and to figure out how to move towards their purpose. The what is the data, information, experience and new knowledge they need to identify, collect, curate and re-construct in order to achieve their purpose. This is a familiar enquiry cycle for most educators – the key difference here is the emphasis on purpose and agency and self-directed navigation. It’s also a process that is core to improvement science approaches.

The learning journey metaphor is simple and yet profound in terms of mind-set shifts. A person leads a journey, you can be on your own or with others, there’s a terrain, a map if you’re lucky, challenges, diversions and a destination. Journeys have endings and beginnings and way-points, and come in all shapes and sizes.

The Learning Journey Platform builds on best practice in data architecture from FinTech in customer journeys and uses AI to support the individual learner in navigating their learning. Whereas in the commercial world the focus is on the ‘next best action’, in the world of learning the focus is on the ‘next best offer’. Dialogue and discourse are at the heart of learning.

Layers – students, teachers, leaders, system leaders

Schools are complex living systems which are multi-layered. We know how important teacher professional learning is – you can’t give what you haven’t got. Moving towards education 3.0 means to be part of a worldview shift which is happening around us because of the challenges of life in the 21C. A worldview shift of this type is uncomfortable and challenging. It’s best encountered and managed through deep professional learning – for leaders and teachers. The Learning Journey Platform captures the data, analyses it and returns aggregated anonymised data as feedback to teachers and leaders for more focused interventions and better decision making. Personal data is only viewed by another person with explicit permission: it belongs to the Learner.

What Next

The focus for the next stage of the Learning Journey Platform is on enhancing the use of AI to support purposeful conversations – enhancing, not replacing, the face to face relationships of trust, affirmation and challenge that are at the heart of learning. ‘Buddy’ already asks questions and ‘calls time’ for reflection at key junctures in each journey and he’ll get cleverer as time goes by. The second focus is on developing support and scaffolding for a whole authentic enquiry project.

The Learning Journey Platform is available for use by schools and HE in this phase of development. Its capability to collect and integrate data around rapid cycles of enquiry make it an ideal candidate to support professional learning and improvement science approaches to educational transformation. Its partnership with Declara – social learning and knowledge curation – mean that through the INSIGHTS tab capability users can access ‘knowledge pathways’ – units of relevant learning material which sit within Declara. The potential for scaling up professional learning across geographies and time is significant.

Business Models

This sort of education innovation requires new business models that allow for collaboration, innovation and evolution. The Learning Emergence Partnership is developing a wholistic approach where the same learning design principles are used in industry for cultural transformation both in terms of employees and different types of users and customers. In between education and industry there is ‘community engagement’ and ‘vocational education’. Our vision is to make this work accessible for all schools, working with both industry and philanthropy. Learning Emergence has an asset locked Foundation to ensure this.

i – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/skills-children-need-work-future-play-lego

ii – Crick, R. 2017, ‘Learning Analytics: Layers, Loops and Processes in a Virtual Learning Infrastructure’ , in G. Siemens & C. Lang (eds), Handbook of Learning Analytics & Educational Data Mining 1st edn, Society of Learning Analytics Research, SOLAR, pp. 291-307

iii – Deakin Crick, R., Huang, S., Ahmed Shafi, A. & Goldspink, C. 2015, ‘Developing Resilient Agency in Learning: The Internal Structure of Learning Power’, British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 121-60.