Diversity and Shared Thinking

Diversity and Shared Thinking

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Number of replies: 4
I would like to leave one key point at the end of this online discussion. I left it until the end to see if anything came out on it - the notion of diversity and learning.

The pie-charts (or other data-display formats of which there are quite a few) show the *diversity* of thinking in the room. This is a resource for learning rather than a starting point for correction.

The goal of Shared Thinking is not to seek consensus or any form of agreement. We are not trying to see how many got the right answer. In this new approach we are seeking to leverage and display the variety of perspectives in the room on a given topic.

I believe this is a big big difference - not least to the standard use of clickers- but also to the idea of teaching. In Shared Thinking the goal is to pool the diverse thinking in the group (and can be a group of 400 we've done it with). Then the goal is to make that visible or 'public.'

This has several effects including letting everyone know that here are the range of issues held by members of this group and that we therefore have something in common that defines as a group. It also puts the discussion into a communicable form for further thought and discussion. And it shapes and supports the response of others.

It is interesting to see how often clickers are held up as valuable and the goal is consensus around a correct answer. That allows the tutor to carry on their prepared story. More importantly we see the most popular learning designs for the use of clickers praising the value of discussion as a way of increasing the level of consensus. In other words the more you talk about it the more you'll fall in or agree or believe or understand the correct story.

It is a qualitatively different thing to seek to avoid consensus and instead to show multiple perspectives. Then to make the diversity the basis of the discussion. This student generated diversity is a rich resource that raises a sense of ownership and makes it feel more authentic as a conversation shaped by the students.

So my final point in closing is to invite you to think about the goal of generating and then displaying the diversity of thoughts in the whole-group as a different way of supporting a student-driven agenda and a rich approach to communal reflection and learning.

Many thanks for this opportunity. Thanks also for your contributions, time and encouragement.

Best wishes,


Nicholas Bowskill
Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow

email: n.bowskill.1@research.gla.ac.uk
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Diversity and Shared Thinking

by Lynne Jones -

Thank you Nicholas,

I am a continual voyeur with SCOPE as work demands have made it difficult to read and respond to all the diversity of contributions that come from this forum.

I have just read your summation above and couldn't agree more. Thank you.


Lynne Jones

Educational Consultant/Adviser, eLearning Projects and Online Development (ePOD), Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE, Queensland, Australia

In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Diversity and Shared Thinking

by Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers -
Dear Nicholas,
I found this "shared thinking" seminar to be very thought provoking. It is Canada Day and I want to wish everyone a "Happy Canada Day".

It is interesting that analysis tends to want "convergence", whereas shared thinking can value divergent thinking in pie charts, and also may in some areas, value clickers that indicate some convergent leanings.

I've been working on a SWOT analysis regarding the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization, that I belong to, supporting and promoting more skills and awareness of online learning/teaching development and more appropriate technology adoption.

It struck me that I was very aware THAT IT IS diversity thinking that will allow some of the members to be more receptive to the SWOT action recommendations and that any feedback I get from the members will be helpful for shaping our direction.

Thanks for your posts and other posts for this subject area; it is of great interest to me.
Jo Ann
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Diversity and Shared Thinking

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
Thanks Nicholas, I'm sorry I didn't have more time to engage with this session.
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Diversity and Shared Thinking

by Sylvia Currie -
Nick's final comments about encouraging diversity multiple perspectives and avoiding consensus has been sitting with me for a few days. The process involves more than individuals laying out their ideas-- reading and acknowledging contributions is also part of it. It seems that this is the foundation for building new knowledge, yet I wonder how often we really do this in practice?

Thinking about multiple perspectives at the group level, it's important to be able to see information in new ways, and ideally to visualize our work together as improvable objects (Gordon Wells introduced us to thinking of text as "improvable objects" in his work on dialogic inquiry). Do our tools support this? There is still plenty of work to be done!

Nick's question also sparked some memories of earlier seminars in SCoPE. I went digging in the seminar archives to bring forward a couple of those discussions:
  • A thread about collaborative dialogue (It starts out with discussion about collaboration in general then becomes focused on collaborative dialogue.)
  • This thread looks at the question What do you think successful online dialogue should be like?