Creating a Learning Experience

I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about some tools I will use next year with my students. I want to prepare an inspiring and effective ground for learning. I don’t want to structure and pre-define everything. I do not want to create a community for my students. Instead, I want to create the conditions necessary for the right kind of environment to emerge. Building an environment for the students is likely to result in failure: environments and communities need to be build with the students, with their full participation, through their work and their interactions.

neat chunks and products

Can I move beyond the traditional approach of pick the tools, add students and coach on outcome? Unfortunately, my curriculum is still to a large extent dominated by learning outcomes, lessons and assignments. Those are the realities of teaching and learning in The Netherlands in the 21st century – it’s not about the process, it’s about the product. I’m taking a stand as a university teacher in the 21st century: I want to create a classroom where my students can enjoy learning experiences. Instead of dividing the curriculum into neat chunks, I will set the stage for the right kind of environment to emerge. It is the kind of environment where learning experiences take shape. This kind of community is characterized by a culture of connection.

Community of learners

learning experience

Any learning experience is a fine mixture of theory, story, co-creative activity and rehearsal. If we get the balance right we deliver effective learning. Getting it wrong and we lose context, lose sense and the learner.

Theory is not about lecturing. It’s about contextualising what we are exploring and framing the learning in the real world.

Story is about building a coherent narrative through the learning. Students need context and the ability to explore freely. So we actively construct shared understanding and meaning.

Co-create activity is about sense making. It’s about stimulating curiousity and the ability to explore and reflect within the community.

Rehearsal is all about providing time for linking back to the real world. It’s about creating permissive spaces to make mistakes and understanding how we identify and welcome a certain amount of risk.

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