Action Learning

Large-scale factors like an expanding global population that is increasing the consumption of non-renewable resources, an aging demographic in many countries and the influence of human action on climate change are changing community expectations of governments and enterprises, introducing notions of corporate social responsibility ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility ) We see the ability of an enterprise to compete will be influenced by the rate at which new practices can be learned and adopted, with life-long learning as a professional and community norm (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifelong_learning ) that is also changing the nature of educational institutions.

We have observed that the design of suitable extended learning spaces considering the following attributes facilitates fast learning and change:
- Physical Aspects. Learning processes can be stimulated or inhibited by what can be seen and heard, how people can move, what they can smell and taste. People may have to be taken out of their normal environment to help see the world differently.
- The Social Aspect. Providing possibilities for making new contacts, establishing new patterns of relationships and sharing tacit knowledge. Intermediaries may be needed to facilitate new connections and manage tensions that can lead to innovative outcomes.
- Linguistic Aspects. Particular jargon associated with new technologies may require interpretation and new (chains of) words may be needed to facilitate social change
- Bringing in a Future Focus. Working with learners to establish a collective vision of a desired future helps to identify the nature and scale of change s needed to achieve this vision. The focus is on how to get there.
- Learning Support. Establishing roles such as 'teacher', 'facilitator', 'trainer', 'mentor' and 'coach' plus access to learning resources and infrastructure can provide temporary support needed to help people take bigger steps.

We favor an action learning / action research (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_research) approach to our projects to explore new directions with people. Whilst we offer our expertise to facilitate action, we also facilitate client learning and we learn with clients. We use an on-line facility, the Reinventnet Learning Laboratory (http://reinventnet.org/moodle/) to facilitate this. The on-line facility is being used as a sophisticated kind of lab-book where others may contribute to projects or use the content in the style of a Learning Management System (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system). We have set up similar Learning Labs for clients using separate instances of the software they can manage themselves.