Characterising Learning Solutions

The framework shared here is intended to help us characterise a type of learning solution as either more ‘formal’, or ‘Social’. It could be used to review existing content, or as a checklist in our design process, to ensure we are building what we intended to build: i should stress that this is not a diagnostic framework, but rather a narrative tool (e.g. you categorise it how you feel it should be represented – there is no calibration), but nonetheless i hope will prove useful.

It plots eight dimensions of a learning experience, and allows you to mark it on a scale: as i said, the scoring you give is subjective. The eight aspects are as follows, with a rationale behind each:

KNOWLEDGE – Given to Discovered
EXPERIENCE – Taught to Guided
CHALLENGE – Given to Identified
LEADERS – Talking to Listening
LEARNING – Diverges or Converges
STORIES – Created or Given
ACTIVITY – Embedded or Abstract
ACTIVITY – Collaborative or Individual

If i solution plots towards the centre, it is more formal in nature, whilst if it plots to the outside, it could be said to be more social (in my work i would call this more Social Collaborative in nature).

Again, i should note that this selection is reasonably arbitrary: i could have made this four dimensions, or easily twenty, and similarly one could argue for many of these that the scale could be different, but let me talk you through the different parts.

KNOWLEDGE: formal learning tends to codify knowledge and give it to you, whilst Social Learning leans towards greater discovery, or social collaboration to create it. This ties in closely to the notion of how knowledge itself is changing, which i have not included (are you seeking formally validated knowledge, or socially validated or tribal knowledge etc).

EXPERIENCE – formal learning tends towards teaching, or scaled eLearning that is self progressed (sometimes called ‘directed’, but in essence the direction is always forwards), whilst Social Learning tends to be more guided or exploratory.

CHALLENGE – formal learning tends to give us challenges, whilst in Social Learning we may work with a community to identify real world challenges, or for the group to determine it. This is not always the case, but it’s an indicator.

LEADERS – in formal learning we tend to record leaders talking, whilst a Social Learning approach would invite them to come and listen to, or participate within, the conversation.

LEARNING – formal learning tends to use assessment mechanisms and design approaches that drive convergence (thinking the same things, acting in the same way), whilst Social Learning tends towards individual understanding and expression – again, this is not an absolute measure, but indicative).

STORIES – formal learning tends towards assets, and formal stories that are told, whilst a strong Social Learning design approach is for the social co-creation of stories at various levels.

ACTIVITY – formal learning tends to be abstract of our everyday reality, whilst Social Learning is embedded within it.

ACTIVITY – formal learning tends to be an individual activity, whilst Social Learning is inherently collaborative. Again, not definitively so, but an indication.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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1 Response to Characterising Learning Solutions

  1. rebfrazeesd says:

    Julian, I like this framework. Would you say the more ‘social’ aspects would also be considered more constructivist?

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