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Describing Learning

January 4th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Happy new year to you all.

I have spent a number of days over Christmas editing videos from the raw film of a workshop we ran in Germany last year as part of the European funded ASSIPA project. The workshop was on self evaluation and was heavily experiential in design.

It’s not easy editing video of real teaching -  there are lots of interruptions and the like, and people coughing and sneezing in the background. On the other hand it is authentic and avoids the dangers of those horribly patronising ‘now I’m going to teach you something’ videos.

I will post a page somewhere giving access ot all the videos an to the learning materials – all of which is available under a Creative Commons License.

The video featured in this blog – “Dimensions of Facilitator Style – is based on the work of John Heron and James Kiltie from the Institute for the Development of Human Potential at University of Guildford, UK in 1970s. they came up with the following way of classifying teaching or facilitator styles:

Directive        ——————————————–    non-directive

(how things are done)

Structured        ——————————————–    unstructured

(what is done)

Cathartic        ——————————————–    non-cathartic

(extent to which facilitator takes emotional responsibility)

Catalytic        ——————————————–    non-catalytic

(extent to which facilitator manipulates the pace + pitch)

Interpretive    ——————————————–    non-interpretive

(extent to which facilitator is responsible for ‘sense making’)

Disclosing     ——————————————–    non-disclosing

(extent to which personal identity and values of facilitator are visible and affect the intervention)

Confronting    ——————————————-   non-confronting

(degree to which illegitimate values, meanings etc are made explicit)

(prescriptive    ——————————————-    descriptive)

(determining range of legitimate meanings)

Now, I think this is pretty cool and in another of the series of videos – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4423062597571110104 – we try using it in practice.

But what really interests me is the potential for describing learning. Because, welcome as the recent interest and focus on informal learning is – the division between formal and informal learning is just too crude and insensitive to help us greatly in understanding learning.  Over Christmas I started  working with Jenny Hughes – who is featured in the videos – on adopting the Dimensions of Facilitator Styles as a tool for  analysing learning. I’m meeting Jenny in Portugal next week and I hope we can find some time to take this work a little further.

I would welcoem anyones thoughts on this – and if you would like to know more about the videos or learning materails just drop me an email.

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