Footprints, conceptuality and complexity… personality and engagement added

Wondering about footprints not only makes me kind of dizzy – in a welcome way, it also opens up a whole range of possibilities, because footprints seem to travel around the world: Jenny and Roy carefully are building up their wiki about the idea of footprints and emergence, my colleagues Jutta, Erika and I, we had the chance to present footprints at the GMW conference in Frankfurt last week (our poster luckily made it up to the best presented there) and digging even deeper into the subject, I learn that the footprints already travelled to Australia (Jenny is talking about it in her blogpost about us presenting at the #gmw13). And now I came across this blogpost by Matthias Melcher from Uni Heidelberg: He talks about the “Raft of Concepts” and makes two references to Steven Downes: One talking about the complexity that is you and the other one referring to a post discussing dichotomies (one of my favorite subjects!) when having to talk about „learning styles: hahahahah“.

This – for me – seems the perfect surrounding for a discussion of the factors making up the footprints: As Matthias writes, only “when all of  these sliders (= factors) are taken together (tied together to form a raft) we can learn how emergent learning is emerging.”

I’d like to shift the core of discussion about footprints (and how to draw them, discussion here and at Jenny’s blog) to the range of factors:

It is true (in terms of clear) to me that the given factors (given and developed by Jenny, Susanne and Roy) cover the notion of emergent learning pretty thoroughly.  In the two workshops I and my colleagues held in German so far, introducing the factors very briefly and doing footprints resp. letting the participants do footprints on their own and discussing them afterwards, I both times noticed a certain reluctance to talk about the factors in detail, yet alone discuss the range in itself. It was, it seemed, sort of a too big thing to talk about in two hours and a half – and we definitely wanted to make them experience how it feels to make a footprint on one’s own.

I myself always had the feeling that for me it had to be the other way round: understanding the factors describing emergent learning would make me understand the footprints a whole lot better. Therefore I didn’t want to HAVE a translation of the factors from English to German, I’d rather wanted to DO the translation in order to understand the underlying concept of emergent learning better by translating it for me (and my colleagues in our reading club). What we ended up with was discussing the translation rather than the factors in their whole complexity. What we did since then brought us on concentrating on the making of the footprint more than on the conceptuality. – I had an ACTION concept in mind – and what we ended up working with was a TARGET concept.

Shifting the focus again to ACTION I’d like to discuss the factors as such: The four clusters absolutely make sense for me. Open/structure, interactive environment, agency and presence/writing are four categories presenting the idea of emergent learning. OK.

In trying to find a German equivalent for these categories, first hand, it is difficult (Jutta was writing a review of all factors as a preparation for out workshop at the #gmw13). One can’t avoid shifting focus a little from one language to the other. Now, after two workshops on footprints and being able to consider the comments of the participants and, in addition, contemplating a lot about the concept of emergent learning, for me there is something missing: Learning occurs outside our courses, self reliant and self guided – more and more effective than inside the given courses, yes. But learning success is almost always depending on the engagement and the enthusiasm a person puts into it. For me therefore I’d like to add a factor personality or engagement, put into the Agency cluster, I would say.

Maybe one would see this new factor as a prerequisite for emergent learning to take place at all – I’d say the learning space and the design of it will make a difference in how engagement is being developed and is able to develop during a learning experience.

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