Welcome to Footprints of Emergence.
About this seminar
This seminar is an exploration and discussion of how learning does (or does not) take place in complex learning environments, such as open online courses, and how this interacts with learning design.
To do this we will share our past and current research into emergent learning, which has been published in two papers. In particular, we will explain and discuss the framework we have developed for ‘complex’ learning environments – Footprints of Emergence.
This framework enables learners and learning designers to articulate, map out, and reflect on critical aspects of learning in open, emergent learning events, both individually and collaboratively and results in visualisations of the learning experience – see the Footprints of Emergence open wiki for examples of learner experience footprints.
There are two webinars scheduled as part of this 2-week seminar discussion. They will take place in the SCoPE Blackboard Collaborate Room: http://urls.bccampus.ca/scopeevents
- Tuesday, 19 November 18:00 GMT
We will introduce ourselves and discuss what emergent learning is and the progress of our research. This will be followed by asynchronous discussion in the forum, where we can discuss further questions and any issues arising from the webinar.
- Tuesday, 26 November 18:00 GMT
This webinar will focus on drawing footprints of emergence and a discussion of the critical factors, which we use to describe and map out the learning experience. We will encourage all participants to draw their own footprints. In the following asynchronous discussion forum, we hope that you will share your footprints, so that we can critically reflect on the approach, and methodology, in order to improve it and to continue to make it accessible, available and relevant to the broader research and design community.
About our facilitators
Roy Williams is an academic, designer, facilitator and researcher, responsible for e-assessment, e-learning, and research in the Dept. of Mathematics and the School of Computing at the University of Portsmouth, UK, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa). More about Roy...
Jenny Mackness is an independent education consultant and researcher, based in the UK, who specialises in designing, authoring and facilitating online learning programmes for national and international markets, and researching open online learning. She has participated in many MOOCs and worked with a team to design and run one of the UK’s first MOOCs (FSLT12). More about Jenny...
Simon Gumtau Simone is a visual communication designer specialising in interactive media design, and an academic lecturer and researcher. More about Simone...
Participating in SCoPE Seminars
SCoPE seminars are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. You are welcome to come and go according to your schedule and interests. To contribute you will need to create an account on the SCoPE site -- a quick process. Are you new to SCoPE or wondering how to manage your participation? Check this resource.
If you have any questions about participating in SCoPE don't hesitate to ask here in the forum, or get in touch with me directly:
(edited post 19 Nov, 2013 to correct date of second webinar sjc)
A big thank you Sylvia, for offering us this opportunity to share our work on emergent learning with the SCoPE community and others. Roy, Simone and I are looking forward to the webinars and discussion.
I have been wondering how people have experienced emergent learning and whether it is obvious to people when it has happened. What stories of emergent learning can we share and tell?
My most recent experience of emergent learning has been in the Modern & Contemporary American Poetry MOOC which I have just completed. I joined this MOOC principlally to see what an xMOOC was like and I had been told that this was a good one. I was surprised by how good it was, but the emergent learning came through the poetry itself. I never expected to find so many links between poetry and teaching and learning. I have written about my experiences in a recent blog post - http://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/capturing-the-learner-experience-in-modpo-and-open-learning-environments/
Looking forward to hearing about other people's emergent learning experiences.
Jenny (and others),
I am looking forward to participating in the workshop series. Emergent, Emersive, Progressive, Transformational... learning approaches are of interest to me. In particular, how they can be applied to autodidactism and the self-determined learner.
I blogged about an emersive / transformational learning experience a while back... There was a small amount of planning that when into the learning event. I wouldn't call it emergent, as the type or subject of the learning wasn't previously identified. The post describes 24 hrs in a Thai Wat and what emerged from the experience; http://criticaltechnology.blogspot.com/2012/01/emersive-learning.html
Looking forward to deepening my understanding of emergence. in particular, designing for emergence...
Hi Peter - this is a wonderful story and has me wondering, reflecting on what the critical factors are in a Thai Wat that enable emersive/transformational learning.
Also Roy and I have been talking today about what the differences might be between emergent learning, open learning and transformational learning and that is soemthing I hope we will all be able to explore together in this forum and in the webinars.
You have writte: I wouldn't call it emergent, as the type or subject of the learning wasn't previously identified.
Could you say a little more about what you mean by this. I'm not sure that I fully understand.
Hi All, wonder if receptivity to emergence can be learned or taught? An emergent outlook would be a great tool for those in the flow of change.
Thanks for sponsoring this SCoPE:-)
Good morning all
This looks to be an interesting discussion.
I'll be working during tomorrow's live session, so I will be an asynchronous member of the group.
Welcome Don. We look forward to interacting with you asynchronously :-). I think Sylvia will be recording the webinars - so hopefully you will also have access to those recordings.
Good morning - I too will look ofrward to the recordings :)
Thanks for this most interesting topic
Christine and Kathleen - 'lurkers' or as I prefer to call them 'observers' are very welcome indeed - so welcome to you both. I strongly believe that everyone, no matter what their role in a discussion, influences the discussion and the overall outcomes and therefore has a significant part to play.
So we look forward to hearing from you if and when you want to comment, but it's equally fine to observe :-)
And Kathleen - I like 'WAITING' - even better than 'observing'!
I've been watching my young granddaughter and her friends learn over the past three years and I think we are born understanding emergent learning. At 3 yrs old, she owns an iPad, talks on Facetime regularly and attends a Montessori school so that process continues to be supported in her life. On a recent visit, I was knitting and she fiqured out on her own how to cast on stitches through a process of repeated experimentation over a long period of intense concentration.
School may beat this natural flow out of kids but I think it's still fundamentally there.
Deidre - this is wonderful and thanks so much for sharing the photo of your lovely grand-daughter.
We are on exactly 'the same page' about this and very early on in our research considered a Montessori classroom as a prime example of where emergent learning might happen. We have written about this on our open wiki - http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/Montessori+pre-school
Why do you think school beats this out of children - and in what forms do you think it is fundamentally there? How do adults draw on these early experiences? Or what do we do in our education systems that inhibits emergent learning?
Thank you Deirdre :-)
Deirdre, agreed. When we first formulated our framework on emergence, and developed the footprints visualisation tools, we deliberately tested our ideas against open learning - as broadly as we could, and Montessori preschools were one of the key examples (alongside higher education, etc).
Our generic footprint of Montessori preschools is here: http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/Montessori+pre-school
And we used Montessori (as well as the interactive space, MEDIATE) as key examples in a further paper (forthcoming, 2014, in Leonardo) on synaesthesia and embodied learning - this is the abstract:
ABSTRACT: In an integrated view of perception and action, learning involves all the senses, the interaction between them, and cross-modality rather than just multi-modality. In short: synesthetic enactive perception, which then forms the basis for more abstract, modality-free knowledge. This can underpin innovative learning design, and is explored in two case studies: children in Montessori preschools, and in the MEDIATE interactive space (for children on the autistic spectrum) in a ‘whole body’ engagement with the world. The challenge is to explore the rich opportunities offered by these modes of learning, and understand the transcriptions and transformations between them.
Hi Scott - wonderful to see you here.
What an interesting question and one that raises the tension between emergent and prescriptive learning which we will be discussing in the webinar tomorrow.
I do think that certain conditions need to be in place for emergent learning to occur and that if we know waht these are, might be, then we can maybe design for emergent learning.
But being able to predict that it will happen seems a bit of a contradiction, which your question implies. Have I misunderstood?
What do others think?
Scott and Jenny and Deirdre ...
Receptivity to emergence can, in the first instance be lost (as children are 'socialised' into conventional schooling) - I think it's innate in young children, as in your great example, Deirdre.
Once children become settled and successful at school, they probably have to re-learn what they prevously knew (how to trust their creative, curious instincts), but this it requires a move on their part back into a more uncertain and risky learning environment, away from the 'comfort' and 'certainty' of schooling. That's a big ask, and must be quite confusing.
Does this make sense?
critical factors. I believe as beings our ability to learn is hightened when traveling in places (or in situations) foriegn to us. This is a survival thing... we are cognitively built to learn with more depth and a greater rate, when uncomfortable in our surroundings. So the critical factors would be; foriegn language and environment (with an element of safety or not), being alone, having learning resources, and a little bit of fear.
I don't consider it emergent because I see emergent learning as having a plan (or design). Not that the designer knows what will be learned exactly... but the space for emergent learning can be designed into the emergent "curriculum". I actually see the learning event is designed for emergent learning, the details end up being divined from each learner with "coaching" from peers and facilitators. Good emergent design knows the subject area of learning, just not the specifics of what each learner will learn.
I believe as beings our ability to learn is hightened when traveling in places (or in situations) foriegn to us
Peter - what a wonderful expression. For me this relates directly to my experience in open learning environments. Roy, Simone and I have discussion over and over what might be the critical factors which influence possibilities for emergent learning and a key one is 'Risk'. I think this is exactly what you are describing. The environment should not be so safe that there is no opportunity for emergent learning. On the other hand it shouldn't be so chaotic that it frightens off the learner. We will be discussing our work on critical factors in the second webinar.
the space for emergent learning can be designed into the emergent "curriculum" I think we would agree with this, but I have to think further about whether emergent learning necessarily needs a plan.
Thanks for your thought provoking comments. I must go away and think !!
. . . looking forward to this discussion.
As usual, I will largely be a lurker (but an active participant in my mind).
cheers, Chris Horgan, SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary.
good morning - just as an aside I now refuse to use the term 'lurker' - for myself at least ... I am a wait-er - as in WAITing =
Watching, Analysing, Investigating, and Thinking – as in WAITing (ie ‘lurking’ but I really hate that term, so I made up my own!) :)
Kathleen -love WAITer. I also use Vygotsky's 'ventriloqising', i.e. following and practising the way other people have articulated issues and concepts as a way into conversations and discussions.
And in the footprints we first concentrated on all the interactive stuff, but then (Jenny) realised that there was a huge gap, and we needed to add 'solitude and contemplation' as a key factor in emergent learning - just as important as all the buzz and social network affordances.
Peter and Jenny ...
I would like to hear more about what you mean by saying that emergent learning needs a plan (or design), Peter. We are trying to describe what we need to put in place to encourage and enable emergent learning, which as Jenny has said above, is almost a contradiction in terms. (If emergence is unpredictable, how can we design for it?)
Looking forward to exploring this (and other paradoxes) in the coming days ...
I believe emergent learning can (and does) happen with or without planning and design. I believe it can be facilitated through open space type approaches... therefore, there is "room" for planning and design. Creating the space to allow for emergence of learning is where the planning and design comes in. I believe the plan and design can create the trajectory of the learning, just as MOOCs have created the trajectory for many emerging pedagogies, etc... and it is the MOOC that brings things back to alignment with the trajectory. Emergent learning often strays, it is the plan and design that brings it back.
I come at this from a agile software development perspective and a M.Ed IT perspective. I see emergent design can also be applied to emergent learning; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_Design I hope this helps with the contradiction...
A big part of my work as an autodidact / heutagogue is in encouraging my own emergence... I think solo learning is a big part of learning... a large number of people are not social and I believe this cohort learns well on thier own. And should be able to "manage" their own emergent learning... I have techniques for this.
Peter, thanks, you articulate it so well:
I believe the plan and design can create the trajectory of the learning, just as MOOCs have created the trajectory for many emerging pedagogies, etc... and it is the MOOC that brings things back to alignment with the trajectory. Emergent learning often strays, it is the plan and design that brings it back..
We came across a lovely metaphor in Rose Luckin's work, on 'lines of desire' ...
which seems to capture some of the interaction between design, alignment and emergent trajectories. See more here ...
Next paradox ... arising from what you write ... Agreed, "a number of people are not social", but ... they too use social media, like this, to forage for nuggets that they can take away and 'think on' and 'think with', no? I do.
I am not a great fan of the term 'heutagogy' (although I support the concept, like you do) but I must admit that I do like playing with the mashed up term 'heutaculture', which is the best (obscure, unfortunately) term I have for designing for emergence.
Hi Peter, Jenny, Deirdre
Not sure how far we can push discomfort before it overwhelms all of our senses and becomes raw confusion. Or triggers our mind to dive back into itself. Neither of which would favour learning.
Maybe we are talking about two things here? In both cases we are responding to some sort of stimulus. One contains the potential to learn, react badly or some other random activity. The other response may be orderly, purposeful and, possibly, goal directed, like learning to knit by trial and error--which I think reveals an innate human need to work things out. Is that need something we could leverage?
It makes sense to me that humans would seek order (things that work) over chaos. Though we are capable of navigating chaos it is too unpredictable as tool for causing workability to appear.
We have the functional ability to make things turn out the way we want to. And this brings intention into the mix pushing us to desired outcomes. And since not just anything will do, we make deliberate effort to direct emergence to land in a specific area and roll out as a comprehensive path called a curriculum.
But what happens here feels like feels like we are putting constraints on a system initially designed to explore first and pick viable options from the results into a model of efficient locating of a preselected outcome. How much control is too much here? Or maybe "control" is too loaded a term and I should use preferable or productive pushing which would allow us to have a purpose for learning over a strictly defined goal?
Scott - I'll be interested to hear how others respond to these interesting comments. There's a lot here I could respond to, but I'll start with this:
It makes sense to me that humans would seek order (things that work) over chaos.
Yes - it makes sense to me too, although I think course designers might intentionally try and push learners into chaos, or at least into challenging zones of learning. This is depicted by this footprint of an open university post-graduate course in education (http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/H809+OU+course)
This visualisation shows that the course design is a mixture of very prescriptive - controlled as you have called it (points towards the centre of the circle), combined with pushing learners to the edge of chaos, i.e. very challenging learning, towards the outer edges of the circle.
This may not make sense now, but we will be discussing these visualisations (Footprints), what they mean, and how to draw them, in our second webinar. They do raise all the issues you have mentioned.
If you can't wait for the webinar, we have an open wiki where we share further information. See http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/
I think that offering learners an activity to track back their own reflections from the outset of an independent project/assignment to follow their own lines of thought and activities, their strategies and outcomes, would require them to "learn by thinking back, then thinking forward" to apply their learning to new learning trajectories/goals. The assignment/project might have started as a prescriptive, pre-set goal assigned by an instructor, but as the student follows back their incidental learning paths from the past to the present, the emergent learning that occurred alongside the prescriptive learning becomes clearer, and this lays the transformational learning framework needed for learners to more proactively engage in a different perspective towards learning: creating improved current learning pause-points to better keep track of their learning journeys for future reference.
This was my own perspective as I began to be more retrospective and future-oriented, more aware of the impact of my work on self and others. It informed me better of how to add details, tags, commentaries, links, etc, to embed more context and make it essentially more meaningful for me at some future point in time when needed.
Glenn - thank you for your two posts with very interesting ideas. It seems to me that you are really trying to unpick the tensions between prescriptive and emergent learning.
Re clusters and factors - we will be discussing these and working with them in the second webinar - but what we have found is that the process of considering these to reflect on a learning experience in any given course or reflect on a course design, can throw up some unexpected results.
We also recognise that using the factors and drawing the footprints is not always intuitive and requires a bit of work. It also requires a bit of prior thought about what we mean by emergent learning, which is why we have planned two webinars and two weeks of discussion.
Looking forward to hearing more about your work and hopefully you will be able to draw and share a footprint with us next week, which visualises your experience with emergent learning.
I would also be interested to hear more about how you think transformational learning might be recognised. How would you define transformational learning?
Glen, lots to think about in your post. A few things (in no particular order) to add to your and Jenny's discussion ...
1. I work a lot with articulating tacit knowledge (through narratives and through footprints), and find it useful to think about what seems to be what you are describing, using the metaphor: "We live life forwards, we make sense of it backwards".
Perhaps we could say that we work with, and through, tacit understandings, which emerge but stay tacit during the learning process, and then, in retrospect, we can reflect on the process, go back to our emerging tacit understandings, and make some of them explicit.
My only qualification would be that this is too 'cognitive' a model, and in practice the cognitive, affective, ontological and social are all mashed up, and we might more usefully describe tacit as having (at least) these four different aspects or dimensions.
If we can do this, (and your work seems to demonstrate that we can), we might be able to better describe the process of learning.
2. The way you are unpacking time, transformations, and way-points is facinating. Can you give us more detail of an example? We too are looking at transformations, and trying to find ways to describe (and to better articulate) the process. I suppose we started, in CCK08, from our fascination with transformations, and the way different people explored and exploited the new social media affordances: for learning, networking, cooperation and collaboration.
We also worked with metaphors and images of the bazaar, the front porch, the forum, etc - as transformative and as liminal spaces.
Jenny, in the footprint you show for H809 I see a pulsation between prescribed content and chaos. Imaging how this might work is to balance the safety of returning to the familiar from the edge in a predictible way. The flipping from compreshesible to chaos and back crosses the emergent zone where learning can normalize the the extremes. Without the picture I can still feel the push and pull and a kind of allowance zone where high and low stimulation can result in processed and retained learning.
This analysis comes to me from processing information like an art student when I see or think about the footprint image. Why this comes to me as a "solution" in an emergent way I don't know. What does seem right is the feeling of push and pull as a way to drive learning. The power of contrasting to stimulate thinking at work here.
Illness has put me beyond the ability to understand a few times. At some level the confusion (for me) creates illusions that are interesting, frightening and not subject to control. As we might be able to manipulate learned things, the mind can't really work with these stories except to observe them. I mention this just in passing and not as any principal and to propose that thinking past some point is no longer thinking but a kind of data flow or dream state. It could be possible the constraints you've mentioned are meant to prevent our drifiting out beyond our ability to recover sense from what we experience?
Yes Scott - we are not saying that emergent learring is good and prescriptive learning is bad or vice versa - more, we are interested in the balance between the two, which you have nicely described in terms of push and pull.
Sometimes simply drawing the footprint helps to make this balance - or lack of balance - explicit and then you can act on it. It is not uncommon for people to be surprised by the result of drawing a footprint. So here are two examples:
- The Masters Degree in e-Business and Innovation course (which we wrote about in this paper - http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1267/2307). The leader of this course realised that there were aspects of the course which were over-challenging - near the edge of chaos - and that this was inhibiting learning - so he pulled aspects of the course back towards the prescriptive zone, where learners would feel safer.
- In a workshop we ran one of the participants drew two footprints - one of her Masters course in Mexico and the other of her PhD course in the UK. She superimposed the PhD footprint over the Masters footprint and it became really explicit that her PhD was significantly more prescriptive than her Masters, which she had experienced as more open. This was really interesting and unexpected for everyone. Unfortunately we do not ahve a copy of the footprint.
Finally - we have written in the past about the importance of constraints, i.e. we do not want our learners to fall off the edge of chaos - but what is challenging for one learner is not for another learner -so the application of constraints is not straight forward. The bottom line is that constraints determine what should NOT happen, rather than what should happen - if that makes sense!
Can you think of examples where the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning has or hasn't worked?
Jenny, like the idea of emergent learning being appropriate to prescriptive out to the limits of open ended exploration. Recognizing learning is malliable and not chopped up into "types" is a refreshing thought.
I can think of a project that fell to peices involving working with master mechanics to improve their diagnostic skills. My role was very peripheral but the process, disaster or not, was full of unexpected learning moments and is actually going to be repeated so it's worth writting down and it can be turned into a board game:-)
Names and locations will be changed and I wonder about context. In hindsight there's lots of obvious mistakes but in the excitement of the original cause and effect were not so clear. My preference would be to write from within the "live" experience and then compare this to the aftermath. See what I can do this week.
Scott and Jenny, push and pull (as you know, Jenny) was a central aspect of how we started to think about learning experience and design, and it's interesting (and reassuring) that you are thinking about it in this way too, Scott. (Looking forward to what you come up with this week).
Acknowledging the push and pull within designing/teaching/learning forced us to shift completely from a 'zero-to-max' model (and graphic) to a 'two value' graphic - which is really quite a big jump, conceptually, for people used to reading 'radar graphs' or 'spider graphs' as 'zero-to-max' perspectives.
Once we had made the shift to a bi-value visualisation, and started to explore the balance between the central value (prescription, comfort, stability) and the more peripheral value (emergence, innovation, creativity, edge-of-chaos), we also realised that the spectrum for each factor was precisely a vector - a 'force with direction' rather than a score on a spectrum of zero-to-max.
And a final step was to add that the 'vectors' work in both directions, and can (and sometimes must) reverse direction too, as in the Innovation course (which you refer to above, Jenny).
That's quite a mind-ful.
Working with bi-directional vectors which push and pull in both directions started to give us a more nuanced and detailed 'thinking structure' to describe our own experience of learning (in CCK08) and to describe the learning of others (in CCK08, preschools, interactive installations, teacher training courses, MAMLL, etc).
We then added the 'landscape', which gave us more metaphorical, underpinning, 'tools' to envisage the dynamics of the learning (and the designing-teaching) process. The 'slopes' within the landscape add (?) to the way the dynamics of change operate within a course.
The question is, does the visualisation tool work? - for different people, contexts, courses, dynamics, and all the different aspect of learning (cognitive, affective, ontological, social, etc). Its quite ambitious, and its an ongoing project - but hopefully making some progress ...
And ... this changes the epistemological assumptions of our learning and design research, which moves away from 'the learning experience' (singular) to the changing dynamics of the learning/teaching/design process.
Thanks Sylvia, Jennie, Roy, Simone
Wonderful topic. I can't be with you this afternoon, so wanted to share one thought about emergence and what it takes to cultivate emergent knowledge. I'm not sure cultivate is the right word, but haven't a better one at the moment. I think of a term that Harrison Owen, the creator of Open Space, uses to describe how he gets ready for an Open Space event --as the facilitator of the event. He meditates. He envisions the people arriving from all the different directions they will be coming from. During the event, he wanders around and picks up coffee cups and puts tape on posters that are beginning to fall from the walls. In other words, he opens the space, and then he holds it. I believe these things could be translated to an online world, and someone probably has, but that is how I remember Harrison describing it.
I think holding the space is a good term to think about preparing or designing for emergent learning. I read something like it in the book by Nonaka and Takeuchi, The Knowledge Creating Company. There the authors talk about the Japanese concept of ba. Ba is similar in that it describes a space where people meet and something happens. (Here is a link and I see that ba has all kinds of aspects I didn't know about. I don't happen to agree with the one about tacit knowledge - I think there is tacit knowledge which can't be made explicit.)
At any rate, when I think of emergent knowledge, I like to think of the space where it happens - like that little three year old teaching herself to knit - beautiful! I think sometimes we create it by not getting in the way too much. And this is trickier in an online world where not getting in the way can mean no one even knows you are there!
It has something to do with attention, though. With people knowing that someone is waiting, wants to see what will happen next, cares that you have something to say. To me, those are important parts of the picture of emergent learning.
Again, thanks and I will be thinking of you all being together while I am in my meeting this afternoon - creating BA for you.
I have read Nonaka and Takeuchi and Ba. When I first came across it I had to become familiar with the concept. When looking at online communities "space" can be and is every where, any time and place. Knowledge can be learned, shared, and transfered from person-to-person in whatever space they habitat. Just my take on it.
Do we need to somehow designate a space specifically for learning or is it possible for people to realize this on their own? This comes to mind from an essay I once read about reminding students to be mindful of their role as learners. In some ways it feels silly to have to tell people to learn but I suppose that is a particular state of mind?
Hi Ila! NIce to see you here.
I see the point, Scott, about the line between informal and formal learning. I imagine it to be a little like setting aside time to meditate or to reflect. If you are constantly engaged in your practice and don't set time/space aside to come to the learning, then it probably isn't so likely to happen. The really good meditators aim to integrate being present with their meditative state in everything that they do, but in our busy world, it is a challenge.
I worked on a professional development project where the faculty from different colleges were given some released time from their teaching and administrative duties to participate. In their time together they kept journals and listened to what each other was doing and discussed their practice as part of what they did together. They said over and over that that was one of the most valuable aspects of their participation in the project - just to have time set apart as a "learning space" to reflect on what they were doing in class, talk it over with others, and then go back to the class and do the next thing.
So I think you are right that we not forget the fine line between informal and formal learning and also that we remember that it is important to remember to do it consciously.
Hi Brenda, Ila
Wonder if the need to remind people they are in a learning space is a means of calling a particular learning process to front of mind? If we exist in the present (it being the most insistent state of being) we might need a nudge to engage our mind in meditation or learning or almost anything not tugging on our attention. This seems purposeful, deliberate and unlike emergence that seems etherial and suggestive.
Just a thought about emergence in nature...when a caterpiller "emerges" as a butterfly there is an intentional struggle...it is not simply "etherial and suggestive"...when a chick emerges from an egg, it pecks like mad because the time is right, when a baby is born there is pain and pushing...I am not sure that all emerging learning involves at least some kind of intentionality but I think at least some of it does. On the other hand, I always have liked time lapse photography where a shoot pushes up from the earth, a flower opens in a smooth flow etc. I think that happens too. I also believe emerging learning happens to me when pieces that don't seem to make sense or have always seemed to fit in a single pattern are somehow transformed in new ways...and everything seems different somehow.
Hi Joyce - I have been thinking about your post since I first read it. Whilst I have often see the chick emerging from an egg used as an illustration of emergence (I have used it myself!), when I read your post and comments about intentionality (I know that there are mosre posts about this that I have yet to catch up with) - it didn't fit with my existing thinking about emergent learning. I have been trying to sort out in my head why this is so.
I still don't think I am clear about this - and I need to read through all the other posts, but I'm wondering whether emergent actions or emergent experience (which have been mentioned in the assessment thread) are the same thing as emergent learning. Not sure whether I've completely lost the plot here! Thanks for making me think!
Jenny, emergent learning, emergent actions, emergent experience (and all of the above) - wow. Food for thought ...
If I try this on the 2 Popes 2 Chairs case study (see here ... )
- Pope 2 is involved in an emergent action - who knows what the reaction will be, he doesnt, really, but I dont think he cares.
- Pope 1 is also involved in an action, and I dont think he cares about learning in the same way - he cares about consolidating tradition (which might be a different kind of lesson)
- Pope 2's change of chairs will be a learning experience for both Popes, and for many cardinals too (past, present, and those with Papal aspirations for the future)
- The Church, the public, the media - many people will be learning different things, or dismissing it as a stunt, and not a learning experience at all - they wont see it as a learning event.
- Chair 2 might just be another chair (the first one has been taken away for a re-gilting job), so it might be a non-event ...
Scott--I don't know about a learning space, but there is definitely a "learning state of mind". Years ago when I was working on my doctorate in Adult and Distance Learning at the Pennsylvania State University, fellow students and I reflected on why we seemed to learn better from conference telephone calls than from broadcast TV programs. We concluded that while many professionals were used to thinking, solving problems and "turned our brains off "when presented with a movie or TV production...we expected to be passively entertained. When we were reminded to actively try to learn from video presentations our sense of learning and ability to analyze and synthesize the material improved...
It makes sense to have a mechanism for directing our attention or signaling a need to shift into a different thinking model. We might assume a professional to be quite adept at jumping in and out of their mode of engagement (their practice or disipline) in a deliberate and conscious way.
But emergence seems different and not so tightly bound to cause and effect? Interesting that you brought up the idea of expectation as a switching mechanism "...we expected to be passivly entertained" to release the focus on being attentive in a particular way. Emergence seems like the embodyment of the unexpected?
I wasn't really talking about "expectation" in a linear sense...I think that there are some situations (such as when I am traveling etc) that I naturally "expect the unexpected", other times in daily situations where I am surprised by it, and still other times when I am sick, bored, or stressed that I wouldn't recognize emergent learning if it bit me!
Occasionally I'm aware of learning. When something stands out of synch with the usual babble playing in my mind. Now that I think of it, learning isn't something I "notice." It seems to appear after the fact.
Hi All - I'll come in at this point in the 'space' - hopefully it will be at the right place (and I cant help thinking of the metaphors in Phillip Pullmans 'Dark Materials' trilogy (which I have finally made the space to read) - the metaphor there is using the 'subtle knife' to cut through to different worlds - it keeps appearing in my mind (but that's just me).
Intentionality (Joyce), opening space and holding it (Brenda), Ba as virtual space (Ila) ... (Stephen Downes, in the MOOC research JAM, yesterday, said he preferred 'presence' to 'space', but I think the terms overlap) and purpose (Scott) all really open up new thoughts and challenges for me - thanks. And I also love the idea of 'emergence as the embodiment of the unexpected'.
Where does this go? For me, it opens up a new train of thought which goes something like this:
1. Emergence is often characterised as the co-evolution of structure (see 'space') and agency (of the participants).
2. This rather assumes that the intentionality is on the side of the participant, and the structure (and the given) is on the side of the provider/designer/ teacher.
What strikes me in all this discussion is that it might be better to see 'structure' as having its own intentionality (open, closed, challenging, comforting, consolidating, innovative, and so on ...) alongside the intentionality of the participant.
This then shifts the model to ...
3. The dance between the implicit intentionality of the structure / space (which has its own 'presence' if you take Stephen Downes view) and the intentionality of the participant. Wow. That moves things on very interestingly, though I am not sure where it will end up ...
Perhaps one trajectory would be ...
4. Learning which is open to transformation (that's another theme, opened up in posts above) is the co-evolution of these two clouds (?) of intentionality.
But maybe I'm getting into metaphor overload here ...
Try not to jump around too much.
As a visual tool, the footprint works fine. The dimensionality removes some of the distortion of change appearing to be so straight / direct and “sudden.” Have to work with the diagram itself but there seems room for all participants. I would add rest or re-consideration benches on the slope down to chaos.
One thing that came to me was my notion of emergence itself was too global. Maybe all the talk of “innovation” (linked to emergent ideas) as an economic driver had me thinking these things are public or openly noticeable when in fact they appear first as personal change. Something “emergent” to me may be entirely new to the whole universe or something new only to myself. I can chew AND blow bubbles with bubble gum. Why did I put what looked like a pencil eraser in my mouth anyway? And why bubbles? Can chew but can’t blow bubbles with broccoli—something in the colour green prevents it:-(
You mentioned dance and that connects to mirror neurons and enactment of the things others are doing. I’ve read Chimps will show their young how to crack nuts by demonstration. After a while the parent will leave a nut on a suitable anvil stone and a suitable hammering rock near by. This kind of intentional structure is suggestive over prescriptive and doesn’t “force” a particular interpretation style. Though this could also be seen as cultural conditioning, I think of it first as a path to personal realization and see ownership in the skill left to the young chimp (Stephen’s “participant” learning something new for themselves).
Understand Peter Rawsthorne’s point about measurement and testing. Doesn’t really show learning. Was thinking about tests for our mechanics’ ability to diagnose a mechanical breakdown. To me diagnosis is proof of interaction with a subject or process that reduces the simple reliance on memory, reveals paths of reasoning and encourages imaginative operations. Not all cases will allow for failure of this process (medical, aeronautical) but it does produce a measureable outcome that itself can be learned from. What I like about this is properly practiced it dishonour the attempt.
Emily S Cross academia. Edu page: http://bangor.academia.edu/EmilySCross
Link “Research Interests” lower left of page then “Dance and the Brain”
Scott, I love the idea of chimps creating learning objects which they place strategically for their young to explore - just like a Montessori environment.
Looks to me like we need to distinguish something like '[open] learning objects with intentionality', and [closed] 'learning objects with instruction' (corresponding to emergent and prescribed learning, perhaps?) - the point being that the learner can accept and explore the intentionality and internalise it in some way, but the instruction only allows for complicance, and there is no need (or motivation?) for internalisation.
This certainly applies to Montessori materials, and would be a useful tool to discriminate between 'well designed' Montessori materials, and (mere) 'learning objects'. I can think of many examples, from the 'scubbing table' throught to complex mathematics.
And ... I will have to set aside some time to visit Emily Cross at academia ... thanks ...
to discriminate between 'well designed' Montessori materials, and (mere) 'learning objects'.
this has always seemed to me the key to the work we do, it is not a question of objects, but of carefully anticipated processes, that each require differing degrees of intevention and mediation
looking at it from this perspective, within contexts where we are charged with the responsibility of "making learning happen", emergent learning is just part of a range of mediation options, in which the mediator sets up a framework in which learning emerges, and then follows certain patterns in many cases...
it sounds churlish to say it, this is nothing new...we should be addressing the reasons why we have to keep saying it..
Nick, love "carefully anticipated processes" - spot on. It complements, or reconfigures (?) the ideas on 'intentionality' in other discussions in these forums, no?
And yes ... why do we have to keep saying all this?
Hi Roy - I'm struggling with the idea of intentionality in relation to emergent learning, in the same way as designing for emergent learning feels contradictory, and George Siemens' desire to create a conceptual framework for evaluating MOOCs (http://momentum.edthemes.org/about-mooc-jam/) feels contrary to the whole notion of openness in MOOCs.
I suspect that I have misunderstood what we are meaning by intentionality in this discussion, but it has certainly given me lots to think about!
Jenny, me too - I was rather shocked by the introduction of 'intentionality' - it seemed like it was introducing determinism (even if tacit) and predictability (of sorts) into emergence.
However, I have become fascinated by it, probably because there is lots of work on affordances which talks of objects (and spaces) as being designed with intentionality. Example, a chair is intended to be sat on (doesn't limit the affordances, but it does 'start the conversation' about how it can be used), and a lift in a building is intended to be safe.
So 'learning objects' and 'learning spaces' might be intended for openness, or for compliance (and that might limit or channel the affordances to some extent). In the footprints, where you are - where you start, where you come in (or are invited to come in) to a learning space might push or pull you into certain affordances (scary, comfortable, liminal, etc) - and choice is such a key part of openness (see Stephen Downes autonomy) that you should be able to choose different, or even new uses and affordances in an open learning space.
I too am not certain that I will be comfortable with a 'strong' sense of intentionality in emergence, but I am very interested in exploring is here - at least for a while.
That reminds me that Cognitive Dissonnance can be a useful tool in teaching. It creates those moments when you become fully present. Sorry the site has new owners and the images were lost in the transfer.I build it into courses thru stories and images.
Ah Deidre - Cognitive Dissonance - this seems very significant in relation to emergent learning and I'm wondering whether it is implicitly covered by the factors we consider when drawing the footprints - or whether it is missing. We should hold that in mind when we draw footprints in Tuesday's webinar. Thanks for the thought.
I thought about your question, designating a space for learning. I think it may depend on the age and era of the person. Adult learners vs traditional learners (grammer, HS, etc) all have differenct learning styles and how learning is approached. Since I have only taught online adults (25+ in age) they tend to find a "space". I look at friends who have school age kids and they seem tobe comfortable doing it on the fy so to speak. I do agree that it is or can be a state of mind and how one needs to position themselves.
Brenda, Ila and Scott - this is such an interesting conversation and the perspectives you are sharing about open space are so helpful Brenda. I really like the idea of 'holding' space to prepare for emergent learning.
If you have had a chance to look at the factors and clusters that Roy, Simone and I have been working on to consider when drawing footprints of emergence - http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/Factors+and+Clusters - you will see that the first cluster is open /structure. I think 'holding space' fits here. We have discussed this cluster a lot and whether the descriptions we have used are really what we want to say.
I haven't yet had a chance to look into 'ba' - but that also sounds intriguing.
I am glad you also brought up Open Space... a very powerful approach for encouraging emergent learning. I have a friend (Chris Corrigan) who travels the world facilitating open space workshops. These workshops happen everywhere you can imagine. Chris speaks often of holding the space to allow amazing things to emerge and to have the conversations that matter. Open spaces can be designed to encourage a trajectory, this begins with the invite (call for participants)... the invite is what would provide the rudder to the sailing ship, where the participants provide the wind.
I see this applies directly to online learning; where the facilitator, or group of peers, creates the invite. The invite sets the terms of reference (subject domain) of the learning and then those with an interest show up to the space. It is this pre-selection toward an interest that keeps in on track... but, amazing learning can emerge from an amazing number of directions, leading to new directions. But again, it is the invite (almost a social contract) that can bring it back into alignment if it strays...
Peter, if we are talking about the 'new open' space (forget about MOOCs for a moment, they are wonderful, but can be a distraction) ...
1. Its not so new - as in your example, and the variety of case studies we - and others - are exploring in terms of emergence.
2. Redefining: open / the new open / social learning / ... add to taste ...
requires us to shift away from outcomes, goals, aims etc - certainly as they have been colonised by the bureaucratic administration of 'schooling' - which in the UK now includes the requirement that all PhD students report - in person - to their supervisors every one or two weeks - reimposing physical space on a hybrid, networked world - can you beat that?
And 'an interest' that both opens up the space and invites people in, and 'holds' the space is a really neat way to reconceptualise / reconfigure that pedagogical discourse, thanks. 'Holding space' is such a tentative balancing act, full of paradox and ambiguity, no?
Peter - I have just picked up a mention of Chris Corrigan in a blog post by Nancy White - http://www.fullcirc.com/2013/11/26/chris-corrigan-on-designing-with-introverts-in-mind/ who refers to his blog post - http://chriscorrigan.com/parkinglot/?p=3982
I would probably have overlooked this had you not mentioned his name.
It has also struck me that although his post is about designing with introverts in mind - it relates to one of the factors we have for drawing the footprints - solitude and contemplation. I usually come up as an introvert on the tests and certainly like plenty of solitude and contemplation and like Chris, I have found it important for emergent learning for me on a personal level.
Hello, I am really interested in the Clusters and Factors in the first article, as it has kick-started my own thinking in how to provide mentoring for newcomers remotely as they engage in developing a portfolio for language learning. For now, many of the clients express interest in developing English language skills for the workplace, at a high-intermediate level.
I had been involved in a blogging apprenticeship through Athabasca University (online MDE program) as an independent student. I transitioned through four semesters of blogging in different contexts (cohort, seminar, independent studies, and cooperative learning) over 15 months, and I think that learning experience has influenced me to replicate that kind of emergent, transformative learning.
I am interested in developing a settlement blogging community for Internationally Trained Individuals (ITIs) and settlement agencies. Though there is some established content, sites, and common pathways, there is room for blending emergent learning with prescriptive learning, .
There already exists a lot of online resources that can be introduced to ITIs(Common issues for newcomers include credential recognition, community connections, finding employment, language skills, workplace culture,)
What is not clear, and does not lend itself well to a prescriptive approach, is the ways that a newcomer will sort through, collect, and navigate these resources.
Underlying this is a way to plan for emergent learning by introducing a sampling of exemplars, self-evaluations, links for exploration, all with a "mesh" or a series of prescriptive interventions that guide client learners to build sense-making and way-making skills.
Hi Jenny, Roy, and Simone!
Sorry to be late for the start of your "Footprints" seminar with Sylvia and everyone. I have been reading your articles and will watch the webinar this evening then will join in the fun.
I have read the two papers and enjoyed them both. For this seminar, I'd really like to figure out a way to use the 3D footprint with two faculty members that I am currently working with as we "redesign" a field practicum (that is more wild than prescriptive). The redesign also includes a preparatory course that preceeds the field placement (this is potentially prescriptive but there is a lot of learning going on that is "unpredictable". Finally, we will also look at the design of the "capstone" that follows the field placement (the capstone is less prescriptive and offers opportunities to "integrate" all that has been learned duing the coursework. This sequence (preparatory, field experience and capstone) must "articulate" at least in so far as these three must "make sense" to students and the three are also required by all students who wish to complete and attain a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree. We know that students learn a lot while undertaking these offerings and sometimes what they learn is not what is expected or what they are prepared for! I think it will be fascinating to attempt to do some footprints of this since it may help us to work with the students and faculty to optimize these opportunities of learning. We will be layering in technologies so that's another dimension and also the students are all over the planet when in the field so, we need to develop an approach that is supportive and community building at the same time. So, there you have it. I hope I can keep up with everyone!
Though the project I'm thinking of footprinting is for heavy duty mechanics I sense a similarity in releasing students into a real and unpredictable public health environment. Connections and solutions are poorly indexed, certainly unplanned and that tried may not work. Just the not working could be a course of study in itself.
The original contract on the mechanics project called for training diagnostic specialists adept at collecting data on high-value, remotely-placed and broken production equipment. The mechanic would be asked to build from field information a repair strategy and then send a field crew to the breakdown location. The idea was to create a level of expert in remote sensing and team communication to monitor a number of repairs by satellite connection and hopefully reduce time on the ground costs and encourage skill retention by allowing top mechanics to work in the office instead of on-site.
It was thought there was too much ambiguity in the process to "teach" this subject but my experience in onsite repair is that problems arise mostly from not being in mental or physical proximity to the breakdown. The mental connection is where communication between mechanic and expert observational field assistant comes in—a kind of imaginary synchronization partnership. (Try and sell the idea that failure of the mechanics imagination caused a miss-diagnosis on something as seemingly simple as a machine. And don’t ever mention “empathy.” Not ever).
A field practicum outside the safely of structured learning plans and expert back-up sounds very emergent! "Wild" is a good term. Interested to see your results.
Thanks for the connection and your story on the mechanics. I must come back to this as you provoke some interesting ideas about what is "teachable" in this context and yet there is clearly a "learning requirement". In my example, there are "preceptors" in the field but there are also other students so we are trying to explore ways (using technologies) that we can possible "create space" for emergence, support and the ongoing debriefs that need to happen while beginning practitioners are on these placements. We're also exploring the idea of how we teach student practitioners to be "reflexive" about themselves and others and there is bound to be emergent learning happening.
Will keep your example in mind as I trundle along and dive into the postings. I am behind.
Barb - how wonderful to see you here.
As an aside to others, Roy, Simone and I met Barb at a conference in Scotland last year (the University of Stirling). What fun we had!
We would be really interested if you started to use the footprints in your work and would help in any we we can. You might also like to speak to a couple of people who were in yesterday's webinar who have used the footprints. Jutta Pauschenwein from Austria, who has used the footprints extensively with her colleagues and with students and blogs about it from time to time - https://zmldidaktik.wordpress.com/ - You will have to scroll through the posts, but there are plenty of them. Heli Nurmi - http://helistudies.edublogs.org/ - has also used the footprints for personal reflection. Again scroll through to find the posts. And there are lots of examples, some with explanations on our open wiki - http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/Folder+of+Footprints
In next week's webinar we will be going through the drawing of footprints and hope that everyone will take the opportunity to draw one during the webinar - but there is a video on the wiki which explains the process - http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/Drawing+footprints
Looking forward to discussing this with you further.
Great to see you here.
Thanks for the info/contacts/links. I will explore these and keep on going! I need to be keeping a journal of my ideas because as I read and then read online what others are contributing it is making me think of all kinds of things....I guess this is emergent learning : )
Last night I re-read the "footprints of emergence" article and I "coloured" each of the 4 clusters" (each cluster with a different colour) of the framework. I then coloured each map in the article accordingly and I found this very helpful in seeing the variances - movements of the maps and in fact I suppose I was able to better imagine the "set of factors" in each cluster and how they seem to move together and independently. There is so much to this, you three are really onto something!
Barb, spot on: the factors and the clusters do "seem to move together and independently". Jutta, I think, reminded us that the footprints are literally holistic - they are an integrated whole, in the learning event, on the drawing surface, and on the mind.
An oil droplet is what comes to mind, which is pulled and pushed in different dimensions and directions, and settles (for a while) temporarily, sometimes in a stable state, sometimes unstable, at one point or another in the course of a learning event.
But it's the way the oil droplet is re/configured, as a whole, that embodies what's happening in the learning experience at that point, the detail of particular factor is in a sense is secondary, no?.
I love the image of the "oil droplet", it fits for me. I can now imagine the movement and this brings me to the idea of "situativity" and what I believe is essentially "relational" in terms of social structures and how we fit and move within a social structural context(s).
To unpack and get a handle on "emergent learning" (I seem more confused than ever the more I read) I am finding myself going back to concepts you work with in the "Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0" paper for instance complexity theory, ecology and interactivity through the web. These are big ideas and perhaps I am having to go back and do some foundational reading in complexity and ecologies to ger a better handle on "emergence", "learning" and then "emergent learning". So far, I am getting a sense that emergence is "dynamic" in a natural sort of way which means it might be paradoxical to try to "manage" "emergence"? I am sure you 3 have spent hours discussing the tension of managing and letting it go.
The other piece of this I am trying to make sense of is the time dimension.
I look forward to more : )
Barb, the oil droplet has only occured to me in this forum for the first time ...
Its elasticity and flow appeals to me, and I like 'situativity' - a 'fluid kind of fit', no? Also strikes me that you only get to see your footprint in detail once you have stepped onwards (in time and space) - you cant see it immediately, and you have to proceed (on trust/ at risk) in order to see how you 'fitted' into the situation (or not) retrospectively. Rich stuff indeed.
Emergence is taken from ecology (physical and biological), which is in turn based on complexity theory (or more specifically complex adaptive systems theory CAST), which emphasise the mutual adaptation of agency and situtation/context.
In ecology (and evolution / de-volution), mutation (chance variation, in the form of serendipitous mistakes - and they are not always positive) are a key aspect of what drives change and adaptation/ extinction. So evolution is based on risk; you cant evolve if you make no mistakes, literally, at the level of miosis.
That implies an entanglement between risk and emergence, and emergence and learning. And that means that if learning is about accepting change, adaptation and risk, you have to trust something - your instincts, you intuitions, your community, your peers, mentors, or all of the above.
Its foolish to dance on the edge of chaos on your own (and its much more fun to do it with a friend or two).
And, yes, if emergence is based on mistakes, variation, risk and trust, quite a lot of it will be unpredictable, so what you design for is the possibility of emergence, you cant manage it, or specify it in a set of required 'outcomes' - that's beyond paradox, its just a contradiction.
In affordances terms, you design for affordances to be as open as possible - and social media provide the communication and interactivity means and modes to produce open affordances. Affordances? (See here ... if you want to read more - start with the two diagrams if you want a short cut).
Hi Barb, great to see you here. Welcome. The redesign sound excellent. Jutta has used the footprints to work through design and re-design, to good effect. Inevitably the footprints of the designer/s, participants, teachers,etc will be different - that should make for interesting conversations about how the design, the space (the invitations, opening, and holding - see above) work or dont work for particular people at particular phases in the event.
In a sense this can provide the basic inputs for what Etienne Wenger calls a learning partnership, in which everyone seeks to learn from each other - which is a very different way to collaboratively reflect on the learning process, rather than to 'evaluate' it. But I'm sure you know all this already - looking forward to seeing how it works out.
Yes, I was thinking this very thing last night - that we will have different footprints depending on who is creating them and yes, I can imagine that this will be a foundation for ongoing redesign. What a great idea! Thanks for the reminder on Etienne's work. Yes, I have also been deep into sociomateriality and so I am also wondering about how the "footprints" themselves are mitigating artifacts for emergence : )
so much to discuss....I have loads of questions too from the articles but I have to run to a meeting.
will be back...
Hi Barb - "footprints" as mitigating artifacts for emergence" - Wow - that's a thought and fits with the discussion on how social media influence research - that is going on in the Networked Learning Conference Hotseat at the moment - http://networkedlearningconference.ning.com/forum/categories/encoded-researchers-pedagogies-and-other-posthuman-concoctions/listForCategory
Thanks! Will check this out. I have not participated in the "hotseats" but I have noticed these in the past. I think it would be useful for me to get into this mix.
will be in touch with what I find....
I am reading a lot about complexity, activity theory, sociomateriality and spatiality...so this is where I am coming from. I am actually thinking seriously of another trip to Stirling : )
Glen, love to hear more on ITI's.
It might not be transferable, but there is a wonderful example of 'research-based' learning in a book by Lada Aidarova: Child development and Education, in which she got her first grade Russian speaking pupils to go out with a notebook and research linguistic practices - what we would now call Hallidayian linguistics.
She started by getting them to tell her what 'researchers' were, and did, and then sent them out to describe, for instance, how people in their families and neighbourhoods said 'hello' in different contexts. She built up from there to getting them to set their own comprehension tests at the end of first grade, which included many items which the 'curriculum' had reserved for grade 3 or even 4.
So they built up their own data-base of empirically found and validated texts, and their own assessment bank. She had an interest - (see one of the discussions, above) which guided all of this, which was a sophisticated understanding and love of applied linguistics, but she never had to mention the word linguistics to them - she just got them to do it - to their and her surprise.
Sorry to be a tad bit late. I saw this topic and it peaked my interest and will try to catch-up. I am a doctoral student at Capella University. I am not familiar with this topic so I will read the materials and looking forward to learning something.
Welcome Ila - good to have you with us. If you look in the other forum you will see that Sylvia has posted a link to the recording of yesterday's webinar, so hopefully that will help you to catch up on discussion if you have the time to view it. I need to watch it again myself, as I think there was loads in the chat that I missed.