Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Swedish smorgasbord of Learning

In a lot of discussions regarding Learning today the main subject is the use of Social Media for Learning and moving from Push to Pull. I am a strong advocate for this but at the same time I see that this change might take a while and that small and careful steps might be necessary to reach my goal.

What I believe is the most important shift in this is to move the power from the top to the bottom. Let the Learners be in charge of  their own Learning. But as said earlier, I think the change won't come in the form of a big fireworks bang but more in the form of a number of fire crackers that eventually builds up to the most magnificent fireworks you have ever seen.

One way to let the Learners take control of their learning is to present them with what I refer to as a

Smorgasbord of Learning.

For those of you not familiar with what a smorgasbord is, it is a very typical Swedish buffet, which we eat on basically all our holidays. For each holiday we exchange one or two dishes but the most dishes remain the same (meatballs cannot not be excluded, unless you want to create a riot). The great thing with the smorgasbord is that you can actually pick and choose from a number of dishes. Ok, so I don't like pickled herring (another dish you cannot exclude) then I just pick something else.

So how can you create a Smorgasbord of Learning?

As I see it you create a number of learning dishes with clear goals and descriptions and present it in a tasteful way to the Learner. You might even suggest a good mix of Learning dishes and a suggestion on in which order to digest them. But, here's the thing... Once you have presented this to the Learner you leave it up to him or her to decide for themselves which dishes they want to choose and in which order to digest them. For example:

Learner 1: "I will go for learning dish 1,2,3 and 5 as I already am confident about the content in dish 4.

Learner 2: " I want the full package just as you have presented it to me, so give me dish 1,2,3,4,5"

Learner 3: "I would like to have the complete package but I think I will go for dish 3 first and then 2,4 and 5 and leave number 1 until last."

This way the Learner has some control over their own Learning. And you as a "chef" has control over the dishes served.

Are you afraid that this will create chaos? I honestly don't think it will. Most people will probably trust you and go for the dishes you suggested to them. And those who don't probably have a good reason for choosing the way they do.

Does this make any sense to you? Was the metaphor unclear? Am I totally wrong in my thinking? Feel free to comment.

Kitchen is closed!

1 comment:

  1. A.W. (Tony) Bates might disagree with the closing the kitchen, but only because of his active promotion of Open Education resources. ;-)

    The Smorgasbord analogy is a good one and serves as a bit of a cautionary tale for what we should be doing to serve our learners better. I think the message is that we need to provide enough of a "buffet" of resources for our learners so they can get what they need when they need it.

    But you do raise some interesting questions on how we should deal with dislikes when the content is required or mandatory. For example, if a module of Kippers is a required element before getting to the meatballs topic, how you you make that more appealing?

    There's also the argument that the kitchen needs to be open 24/7 and that the dish offerings need to be refreshed regularly to attract regular and repeat diners and snackers.

    (Damn, now I'm hungry...)