Doing, Being, Becoming, Belonging & Connecting #twalk #spacetwalkLeeds

D3BCThe Twalk next week (27th March 2019) at 1-2pm UK time, has the theme of Doing, Being, Belonging, Becoming and Connecting – the role of learning space,

This post provides a little explanation of each of those keywords.


A focus here is broadly on active learning, but we might like to think more specifically about actions that involve students in ‘making’ something. Again, ‘making’ encompasses a breadth of possibilities from creating artifacts, plans, or mental constructs.
We could think, for example, of performance in real or simulated spaces – how students put ideas into action – or authentic and applied learning.
If we are thinking about doing, we are thinking about enacting and this connects closely to the next idea of being. However, when we think about doing we may be thinking about the idea of constructionism (Papert, 1980) and how our commitment to producing an artifact establishes a rich learning opportunity, especially in a social situation where the detail of the knowledge has to be navigated and negotiateed.
In designing activity, we should also consider whether the doing is an individual act or whether there is benefit to establishing a collaborative dimension. The social dynamic can affect the richness of the act as a learning experience. An individually-focused task, for example, may allow the student to discover their flow and creativity by rising to the challenge they are given and dealing with it. The individual not only learns they can execute the task (or where they need to develop in order to execute it), but they learn that they are resourceful and generally capable. This affects their self-esteem, efficacy and readiness to adopt more self-directed approaches in the future. A social act may introduce anxiety or personally challenge the learner, while at the same time providing opportunities to adopt and try out new roles and discover new personal qualities, knowledge, and skills.
Doing will reveal the learner’s own capabilities and allow them to reflect on this.


Being focuses more on enactment and embodiment. It is more existential, heightening a learner’s sense of self through a ‘lived’ version or interpretation of learning. It relates closely to the idea of doing and so probably reflects the philosophy of active learning, however, it draws our attention to the individual trying on a role and discovering and appreciating their emerging new identity. It allows us to create space in which a student reflects on their relationship to their chosen discipline.
The idea of ‘being’ suggests that the learning environment (the space or conditions we create for learning) fosters a student’s appreciation of their subject, their learning, and themselves.
The learning space, therefore, supports personal reflection and awareness of personal change. A gallery of student work, for example, will reflect and add credence to the emerging sense of identity we wish our students to develop.


Belonging addresses the needs for our students to be part of something that they value; something that is of mutual benefit to those with whom they associate: their peers, tutors, and others who they identify as reflecting their idea of their course. We are thinking, therefore, about a co-operative ethos and a space that promotes a sense of co-operativism. This can be formal or informal in nature, but more than anything, it is reflected in the habits of the community and how they go about learning and their shared ethos.


The idea of becoming recognises the learner as a dynamic entity with an individual trajectory who, in association with others, changes over time driven by personal curiosity and goals towards arriving at an ever-changing idea of destiny.
Here we are thinking about spaces and situations that challenge the learner to review and modify their ideals as well as their sense of self, This happens as the learner learns more about their knowledge, their purpose and the application of the skills they are developing,. Importantly, the situations the learner encounters helps them to develop their attitudes and dispositions and their sense of their independence, autonomy and maturity.
In terms of learning space, for example, we might think about challenge and reflection and how spaces such as a mooting chamber for law students, a studio for artists, or a seminar room for humanities students, or a ward for nurses, challenges the learner to perform as a ‘becoming professional’.


Connecting, here, refers to the academic’s need to overcome the organisational fragmentation of the learning experience as well as to take advantage of connections that can be made in the classroom and beyond it to real world situations and networks.
Higher education is typically bound by its organisational requirements. While organisation is necessary to deliver a curriculum, it can inadvertently compartmentalise the experience of learning causing the natural flow of learning experience to be repeatedly interrupted and, so, disconnected. The pedagogies and spaces we use create an opportunity to disrupt this unrealistic compartmentalisation, however, it requires us, as academics, to look for and appreciate the richness of connections that can be made by thinking about liminality and how we can positively encourage our students to cross boundaries to make actual and semantic connections as the basis for rich learning.
This is clear, for example, in the design of feedback ‘that has nowhere to go’. Feedforward, on the other hand, is designed to ensure that learning from assessment can be applied by the learner in specific future situations.
Connecting is clearly part of this model because it is an ontological idea too – it is concerned with the interpersonal experience of learning and the development of identity. Social media space, for example, is rich and valuable because the space is essentially a connected space: both technically, and in the ways that people connect communally sharing knowledge authentically through open-ended networks (Siemens, 2003; 2005; 2008).


Papert, S. (1980) Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York:Basic Books, Inc. Available online:

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: the systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning.  Online at:

Siemens, G. (2005) Connectivism: a learning theory for a digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10. Online at:

Siemens, G. (2003, October 17). Learning ecology, communities, and networks: extending the classroom. Online at:

About amiddlet50

Educational developer working in academic innovation in higher education in the UK
This entry was posted in active learning, Applied Learning, belonging, Digital Placemaking, learner engagement, learning space, Literacies and intelligence, Personal & Professional Development Planning, social media for learning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Doing, Being, Becoming, Belonging & Connecting #twalk #spacetwalkLeeds

  1. David Baume says:

    I love this!
    You get beyond the ways in which we usually talk about education. In doing so, you provide richer, and very productive, ways to talk about learning, and hence about teaching. As one example; connection is a very valuable idea alongside construction. Constructivism bothers some people, alas. I can’t see how connectionism would!
    I use a simpler model here – – which talks about a three-step (possibly) developmental sequence – knowing, doing, being. We have to acknowledge ‘knowing’. It’s a big deal in HE. For better and for worse. Mostly, I think, for worse. But we need to put knowledge in its place – we can’t safely ignore it, I feel.
    I’ll think about how these two accounts may fit together.
    Thank you again

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