Learn how to ‘learn the new’!

Schermafbeelding 2013-01-25 om 11.28.18What we definitely need in a MOOC is ‘good driving’: find promising roads, get and keep in touch with other drivers, ask for directions now and then and have a kind of destination in mind. I join this #ETMOOC for almost 2 weeks now, and it has been a good learning experience so far! It challenges me in my learning skills: focus, select, contribute, but what, believe, mixed feelings, new connections, share, questions and time to combine, reflect and remix! Here an attempt to grasp the skills that I need to be able to really learn from a learning environment as this MOOC.

  • First of all… there is a lot to read. From blogposts to articles, to slideshares and tweets. All different types of communication and messages which require critical reading.What is important is the ability to find them, choose with focus (what is important to me?) and comprehend them.
  • Take the time to read them with some depth and attention. I often feel a kind of urge and impatience to go, go, go, because there is so much information that might be of value to me.
  • You need focus to guide your search process, for critical inquiry to pursue your search, and to gather answers.
  • Next is to use your critical interpretation to value the different messages. What is of value and what isn’t? Howard Rheingold calls this crap-detection.
  • Where do you collect all those valuable sources? You might be able to find them later as well. You need to know what tools work for you. Are you going to pin, tweet, use social bookmarking, write something down in a notebook?
  • Be satisfied with the collecting of insights and ideas you got from an hour (or two?) exploring. Manage your time. Because of the constant availability of interactions and information with social media, you can explore for hours. But does that improve your own learning process? I have the impression that your mind is ‘full’ at a certain moment.
  • When to turn off from the ‘scene’ and take time to reflect upon your discoveries? Another way to ‘manage your time’. In MOOCs, informal learning, social learning environments you need to decide for yourself when to take time to deepen your understanding. The stream of tweets, discussions, pins and blogs will never stop.
  • Schermafbeelding 2013-01-25 om 11.35.50See possible connections between the different sources that attracted you. From those bits and pieces try to construct, make and remake. I compare this step with sense-making, in the way Harold Jarche talks about it: actively giving meaning to what you have found.
  • Rework and remix; terms I really love. I’m reading the book ‘A new culture of learning‘, written by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. They describe a story in which the goal of remixing is to improve your idea or product with contributions of others. “You get it as good as possible first, and then if it needs improvement, you are happy to have others remix”. I truly believe that this is another attitude then I learned in school. Of course, I ask for feedback and am very happy with colleagues thinking along. But remixing sounds like one step further: someone else continuing working on the idea of product.
  • When to turn to others? Learning from each other is one of the things we ought to do with social media. Who is behind that interesting blogpost you are reading? What might be a a response from your side that stimulates dialogue and exchange? Or do you first want to make something yourself that you can share? Start engaging with each other in a collaborative inquiry.
  • This type of learning has everything to do with curiosity I believe. Are you excited to found out how things work? How other people think? Are you full of questions regarding the learning subject? Eager to hear experiences from others? Not satisfied with the first answer you get?

Some of the essential skills we need for learning in this dynamic and social learning environment, I believe. Skills to find your own answers, to build a personal learning network, to collectively develop new knowledge. What do you think are important skills for this type of learning?

This reminds me of an interested blogpost written by Jane Hart: ‘Learning the old versus Learning the new‘. And as we are talking here about ‘learning the new’, we also need to learn how to learn the new!