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Learning to Learn.

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Hey Juliet, wanna be in my team?

Err, yes, obviously. I’m no stranger to my need to be included, so this question rarely results in a negative response (unless it is to join a team of jellied eel eaters, or a team of lift testers, shiver).

So when I was asked if I wanted to join a team of colleagues going through an online learning programme about Human Centred Design, I couldn’t say no. The trouble with being someone who is passionate about developing others is that I too am constantly wanting to learn shiny new stuff.

This course was a free online programme over 9 weeks, whereby you were expected to read course content every week, then regularly meet with your course team to discuss the learning and apply it to a project.

Of course the day job gets in the way and I found I was rarely able to complete the self directed part of the programme. Or at least, I wasn’t sufficiently motivated to make it a priority in my week – which is actually something quite different, and an issue I discuss with colleagues across the university frequently!

The joint discussions however were a different thing. A brilliant collection of minds, enthused about the topic, sparking off the each other and ably guided and facilitated by one of the group who was already familiar with the content.

Applying our learning to a project (albeit one created for this purpose) completely transformed my understanding of the content of the programme. This was blended learning at its best.

The course drew to a conclusion and to receive the completion certificate you needed to write a short assignment about your project and its outputs. Suddenly I was back alone with my learning; and I am ashamed to say I never did it. That certificate will never grace my wall.

But, actually, am I “ashamed”? Not really. My learning was none the less for not having submitted; it happened iteratively across the weeks, and most specifically through the group discussions and in the application to the project.

This is a wonderful insight into my own preferences for, and strengths in, learning. On this occasion it didn’t matter to me whether I got the piece of paper or not. For others in the group that was important, and they were motivated to complete the assignment.

Understanding your own drivers for learning is key. As is not assuming that others will feel the same. It’s easy to pull together a group of colleagues to learn jointly. Give it a go and see if that’s your thing.

Watch out for my next blog that will explore the content of the Human Centred Design programme that I was completing.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development

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