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This blog was started as my reflections on the 2011 Change MOOC. It is now an on going journal of my thoughts on Higher Education, specifically teaching Biology.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Collective Learning part 3 (Ah-Ha moment) #change11

This morning in my email box, there was a note that there was a comment in Jeff Merrell's Learning. Change. By Design. blog.  Allison Littlejohn had left a link to some of the presentation papers she and her colleagues have given.  I want to thank her for those links because they have helped to give me more clarity on her concept of Collective Learning.

As I have mentioned before, I don't see the concept of collective knowledge and learning as radically new.  The presentation paper entitled Charting Collective Knowledge: Supporting Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace, and some comments from John, are helping me to see Professor Littlejohn's position paper in more light.  And that light?  I'm not part of the intended audience.

I know it sounds simple, but a quote from Jeff really hammered this point home: "So the usefulness of Littlejon's work is in many ways as a framework for describing the environment and getting practitioners to reframe their thinking."  The practitioners mentioned are trainers.

This immediately sent me back to a day long workshop when I was teaching at a community college.  The President of the college decided that the faculty needed to learn better people skills, and he hired a firm to come in and train the faculty with "best practices."  These trainers faced a group of academics, and tried to "teach" lessons on how to handle phone calls and other "people skills."  I really don't remember anything after the first fifteen minutes of how to answer a phone; that is because the psychology faculty got into an argument with the trainers about why they were using 30 year old physiological tactics in managing people on the phone when these same tactics were shown ineffective 15 years previously.  I remember the ensuing debate, the psychologics, sociologists and most of the business faculty leaving (save for their chair).  I just went to my happy place and zoned out through the workshop.  OK, it was a bad mix all around, but I do remember that the trainers had no idea what they were in for when they came to the college that day (and the president had no idea that the faculty backlash would be so harsh...we all worked it out though).  One lesson learned, never put a group of academics into a remedial training class because one person has a bad phone presence.  The second, know your audience.

So, now in light of my new realization of audience, I can look over Professor Littlejohn's work with a fresh eye!  Therefore, it is back to the drawing board on Collective Learning.