REAL Circuits of Learning

Read more posts about Renewable Experiential & Applied Learning (REAL)

Now that Renewable Experiential & Applied Learning has an acronym (REAL), the next thing it needs is metaphors and cocktail napkin sketches…so here goes:

Napkin sketch showing learners moving between educational educational and workplace settings along a circuit, generating and storing value in OER-based renewable assignments.

A key part of REAL’s “renewability” is the idea of connecting learning and experience in virtuous cycles that rotate through activities in educational organizations and the wider world of communities and workplaces. My first metaphor for these virtuous cycles is an electrical circuit:

  1. Learners are the electrical charge,
  2. traveling from knowledge-building activities in educational settings
  3. across conduits to activities of practice in community/workplace settings
  4. and then completing the circuit by returning to their original educational setting.
  5. Once returned, learners amplify their experience by engaging in renewable assignments
  6. that further their learning and enable assessment of their progress toward learning goals.

In this “electric” metaphor, the openly-licensed artifacts (OER) that learners generate via renewable assignments at different points around the circuit act as batteries, storing the power of learning to later empower other learners and learning.


Getting Real: Renewable Experiential & Applied Learning

One of the best parts about working with David Wiley (@opencontent) at Lumen Learning is how he inspires new thinking in me and others around him.

A series of conversations with David about what he introduced me to as disposable assignments—students hate doing them, you hate grading them—led us to start calling the alternative—assignments where students produce meaningful, public works—”renewable assignments”. David has expanded on this thinking, talking about the potential cognitive surplus that could be realized if all disposable assignments became renewable.

This line of thinking in turn led me to start imagining larger constellations of renewable educational activity. For example: imagine an EDU institution that has relationships with one or more local businesses, nonprofits or government organizations. Graduates from the institution are often employed by the organizations and/or organization workers often participate in professional development at the institution. These relationships exist all over and are a welcome sign of healthy community engagement and economic development.

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What difference does it make who is speaking?

Thanks to an ongoing discussion with @twigz that has now taken place over so many days and channels that I expect she’s ready to unfriend me (or worse), I’ve been thinking on the role of the author in networked digital culture and how it might be different from the established role of the author.

At the very end of his essay, What is an author?, Michel Foucault imagines a dramatic shift in the cultural role the author plays in the “modern” era that he so carefully lays out in the rest of the essay:

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