Friday, March 23, 2007

"Excellence in learning" what do YOU think it means?

I would really appreciate feedback from as wide a range of people as possible on this point. Students, teachers, learning professionals of all descriptions. Formal education sector, workplace learning, informal learning, the lot!

I have been challenged to identify what constitutes "excellence in learning" and to suggest creative ways to deliver that. So I thought I would ask you what you think the phrase means. I'm quite happy to think about the "creative ways" - it's the defining bit I'm finding unexpectedly challenging. It's one of those things you assume you know until someone actually pins you down and asks you to quantify.

Please, please, any blurkers who have not yet been tempted to comment - your perspective is as valuable as anyone else's, and I would deeply appreciate it if you would venture to comment in this one instance. If you would prefer to post on your own blog, please tag me to alert me to this fact...

7 comments:

Janet Clarey said...

Hi Karen-
I work at Brandon Hall Research and every year for the past 13 years, we've held the "Excellence in Learning Awards." Here's our standards for excellence (the criteria judges use in evaluating entries) in learning:

Custom Content (self-paced online learning content):
• Usability. How user-friendly and easy-to-navigate is this entry?
• Information. How effectively does this entry arrange and present its content?
• Media. How well do the media used in this entry support the learning?
• Interactivity. How well does this entry make the learner respond actively?
• Alignment. How well do the practice opportunities in this entry relate to the skills and concepts being presented?
• Motivation. How engaging and motivating is this entry?
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this entry?

Innovation in Learning Technology (tools, systems, technology)
• Clarity. How clearly does this entry define what its innovative functionality is and show how it works?
• Improvement. How well does this entry’s innovative functionality make some aspect of learning better, faster, or easier?
• Innovativeness. How well does this entry’s innovative functionality represent a new approach versus the approaches of other solutions?
• Significance. How significant would this innovative functionality be for learners or for learning professionals?
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this functionality?

Best Results of a Learning Program
• Clarity. How clearly does this entry describe its learning program and results?
• Alignment. How well does this entry show the alignment of its learning program to the needs or priorities of the organization?
• Approach. How well does this entry describe the approach (design and implementation) of its learning program?
• Evaluation. How appropriate are the methods for evaluating results that are described in this entry?
• Results. How significant are the results described in this entry?
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this entry?

Best Blended Learning Program
• Clarity. How clearly does this entry describe its use of at least two different delivery modalities?
• Appropriateness. How well does this entry show how each of its particular delivery modalities fit the needs of its learning situation?
• Scope. To what degree is each delivery modality a full part of the learning program described in this entry?
• Blending. How well does this entry show how its multiple delivery modalities relate to and support each other?
• Benefits. How well does this entry describe the specific benefits obtained by using its particular delivery modalities.
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this entry?

Best Use of Emerging Technology (wiki, blog, etc.)
• Clarity. How clearly does this entry describe its use of an emerging technology?
• Emerging. To what degree is the technology described in this entry innovative, emerging technology?
• Appropriateness. How well does this entry show how its use of emerging technology fit the needs of its learning situation?
• Scope. How widely implemented was the emerging technology described in this entry?
• Benefits. How well does this entry describe the specific benefits obtained by using its emerging technology?
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this entry?

Best Learning Team
• Clarity. How clearly does this entry describe the effectiveness of this team of learning professionals?
• Capabilities. How well does this entry show the range of capabilities of this team that allows it to meet the learning needs of its user organization?
• Teamwork. How well does this entry show how this team of learning professionals works as a team to provide services to its user organization?
• Innovativeness. How well does this entry show how this team of learning professionals adopts innovative approaches to meet the needs of its use r organization?
• Impact. How well does this entry show the impact of this team of learning professionals on its user organization?
• Overall. Overall, how impressive is this entry?

I hope this helps.
Regards-
Janet

datruss said...

In short... (I should be marking so that I can enjoy the weekend.)
To me 'Excellence in Learning' is participant driven. It stems from interest/passion/aspiration... it is about a desire/thirst to learn, and an eagerness to persue the unknown.
Perhaps my 'School 2.0 Participant’s Manifesto'
might give you some ideas...
http://eduspaces.net/dtruss/weblog/151400.html
Hope this helps.
Dave

rlubensky said...

Consider the last time you finished an event or challenge of some sort and remarked "I learned a lot from that!" What made you say that? Whatever your answer was, it was valid. The point is that it was your perspective and needs at the time and place that not only lead you to recognise that you learned something, but that it was excellent.

To ask about "excellence in learning" without context is to make the error of universal generalisation. Also, any question about excellence invariably leads to the question of evaluation by somebody other than you--maybe a teacher or mentor making a qualitative judgement. Maybe a standardised assessment from a Mac-curriculum. Too often learning which can't be neatly tested is denied value.

Frances Bell said...

Hi Karen,
I am so glad that you asked about excellence in learning rather than teaching. For me excellence in learning is about learners going with enthusiasm on a journey of enquiry and then thinking about the journey afterwards. That way they really get the most from the experience. Teachers and students can both do this but the role of the teacher in helping learners is:
* don't squash their enthusiasm
* answer their questions when they are getting lost
* ask them about their experience afterwards.
It's more about what you don't do than what you do.

Karyn Romeis said...

Thanks so much for these comments, guys. Hopefully there will be a few more, too! Each of you have addressed this from a different perspective, which is so cool.

Janet: very comprehensive and definitely useful. You've addressed the perspective of the learning provider.

David: You've addressed the perspective of the learner, which is a good yardstick for a teacher/learning provider to use to assess their lesson/product.

Ron: You've looked at the bigger picture and pointed out the flaw i my question, which is exemplified by the different perspectives of each of the answers. I could have made it more specific by describing what we do and what our vision currently is, but I was reluctant to colour the question with my own perspectives, so I erred on the side of generalisation. But I agree that it's about the learner experience. That's my passion.

Frances: You've addressed the teacher's perspective, which is different again. There are some key points in the teacher's attitude towards the learner that translate very well into my field.

Thanks guys!

lynn said...

The variety of responses make me think of Merriams quote about adult learning and the proverbial elephant. It looks different depending on which part of the animal is being examined. Thinking about excellence from the learners perspective I guess if learners are valued then learning is excellent when the learner says it is.
PS have you managed to sort out the politics at work? (lynn from connectivism conference) Would welcome meeting up to share ideas.

Karyn Romeis said...

"if learners are valued then learning is excellent when the learner says it is"

Good point, Lynn.