The walk I organised for last week introduced several new ideas about the role and methods of learning walks for me.
- the difference between a walk and a twalk and the value of connectivity to other groups
- the ‘teaching’ role – facilitator, orchestrator, notemaker, etc
- the use stimuli (beyond the physical environment) e.g. readings, conundrums, scenarios, problems, etc
- group size and the nature of conversation
- deviation and self-direction
- extending the time from 1 to 2 hours and how it affects engagement and the nature of the conversation
- implications for active learning design in general.
To walk or to twalk?
- situating your own learning experience within a broader, global context;
- the expectation that the learner is a networked author and contributor – we do more than talk, we summarise, reflect and make posts as we walk;
- engaging with peers by viewing and responding to their posts and interacting as a connected group.
More time, space and distraction
Clearly, the walk leader isn’t the obvious Twitter feed operator. In our two groups, both walk leaders did assume the Twitter note-making role however. This becomes inevitable when you cannot be sure there is someone within the walking group who will agree or is able to perform that role.
This led to my decision to use the Twilight Twalk format. Spanning two hours and starting at 4 o’clock, the activity spans the formal working day creating an in-between time that includes going home time. It’s a liminal space, and good for reflection. This actually accentuates the notion of shared ownership over the learning space. It makes that point by introducing ambiguity about whether we should be here at all, and as we are, then the implication that we might assume a higher degree of self-determination. Clearly, the leader/facilitator loses the automatic right to lead and so negotiated space is part of the learning context. This brings pros and cons which I wont to explore further here.
Reflecting on walks and twalks demonstrates how complex the learning environment is. This complexity indicates its richness, but I would argue makes it no harder than any other learning environment to design for. Indeed, given I ‘know my stuff’, I would rather plan an active learning session than a lecture in terms of planning load. If you know how to meet the learning outcomes, the detailed planning of a lecture becomes unnecessarily arduous in my opinion. In the active learning environment, you must plan and develop your supporting resources too so that they are useful for and usable by your students/participants, however, the central questions, stimuli, social setting, and possibilities for deviation and self-direction make active learning so much more rewarding and, in fact, viable for all from the perspective of learning ecologies and connectivism.