Friday, May 04, 2007

Reflective Learning at Work/shops

I like to think of WOLF (workshop for online facilitators) as a 'reflective production workshop' rather than a 'course' - the end product is a mini-series of learning objects, or bytes, which ideally should be part of your work, rather than an academic exercise.

On reflecting on how the workshop is going this time round (fits and starts, Bank Holidays, Spring, etc), and on reflecting on a discussion with a colleague who is doing a learning at work project (, about learning at work) it struck me that WOLF is actually much more of a 'learning at work' project than a 'course'. The end ‘product’ is a mini-series of learning objects, or bytes, which really should be part of your work, rather than just an academic exercise.

In fact, WOLF might be an interesting model for learning at work online, and it would be interesting to see if this could be applied to units like research methods, and maybe other units too.

The generic model which seems to be emerging is an online workshop which includes three phases:

Phase 1. Arrivals: introductions and getting to know one another.

Phase 2. Exploring generic ideas, models, theories, research in the particular field of study.
Phase 3. Work-based project: this doesn’t have to be done online (unless 'online' is a key component, as it is in WOLF), but the online discussions could be used to exchange ideas on:
3.1 Bottom line: the 'client', the 'task', the ROI, etc: "outcomes"
3.2 Approach: method, etc.
3.3 Proposed Modus Operandi
3.4 Resources and Schedule
3.5 Benchmarks of progress, including reflection on the externalities (3.1), and on the internalities (how you are coping/not coping/ changing your approach).
3.6 Product: drafts of the product, or comments and reflections on it.
3.7 Assessment: many options here, including peer assessment.

This could just as well be a blended workshop. I ran a Blended WOLF last year, to good effect. The hours of learning would be 3X5 hours = 15 hours, and could be achieved in a number of ways, either online or in blended learning:

i) 5-6 weeeks online, or …
ii) 1 week online
+ 3X3 hours in a computer lab, over three mornings,
+ 1-2 weeks online, or …
iii) another format .

This model can be further developed in the discussion forums, which can distinguish between General discussions (based on Phase 1 and 2) and discussions with individuals (Phase 3). The Phase 3 discussions could be open for anyone to read, but only for the individual and the facilitator to write to. All participants would, however, be encouraged to read these individual discussions and to post ideas, comments etc on them within the General discussions forums.

In addition, confidential discussions can take place between individuals and the facilitator within emails.

This model could be usefully applied to research methods as a feeder to research projects, as well as to a number of other areas of Learning at Work.


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