Archive for the ‘*Limen’ Category

From curiousity to ambiguity and liminality

I’ve picked up on Tracy’s posts recently as I’ve really seen a connection with her process and mine around the nature of emergent practice, where practice leads to (rather than being based in) theoretical approaches to learning and teaching. Perhaps some call this praxis?

Following on from her curious curriculum, Tracy talks a bit more about her teaching process – this time about ambiguity.

Crossing over, I’ve also recently picked up reading Tom Haskins’ blog after meeting him (online) in Sydney last week. Tom’s post, Learning from not really learning, got me thinking once more about the unsettled moments and ambiguities we encounter daily in our work and life.

Those liminal spaces help us to reach forward in our learning as we grapple to understand and make sense of new knowledge. So too, in a changing workplace, we are often in the same state, yet it seems that very quickly we try to find the closest ground, somewhere ‘safe’ with some semblance of permanence or firmness. This seems normal in a high state of change, such as a restructure, for example.

Liminality requires time and space. It requires careful holding and is, as Tom reiterates in his post about learning, a process not a product that we can mold. It’s an intangible feeling (usually a feeling of vulnerability) that is often uncomfortable. When we feel uncomfortable, we of course seek comfort. In the learning process we seek understanding in order to feel a sense of comfort and feeling of achievement thus follows.

In learning, these liminal spaces require empathic intelligence (from within us and with others), not a rush to achieve learning outcomes. They require little content and are more a space to wander through one’s learning in process. They are tumultuous and unsettling but have space for stillness and reflection.

‘They’ are not spaces really – liminality is us and our journey towards knowing, where we realise we are on the threshold of understanding.

Thanks Tracy and Tom for your quiet words of wisdom.

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Thou shalt not covert thy (learning) specialists

I’ve been reflecting on recent events and readings that have caused me to ponder the state of play in education institutions, especially where much change is evident, and particularly around flexible learning (restructuring is the ‘tool’ of the naughties right 🙂 ).

We’ve seen a growing push for industry engagement with flexible learning, nationally and locally. We’ve seen professional development and its links to broader strategy in varied ways. And a good deal of time has been spent deliberating over the benefits of global versus local efforts on standards and systems. More broadly we see much discussion and activity around the changing nature of learning, of teaching and of organisations that ‘conventionalise’ both (for want of a better word).

What I seem to be hearing in amongst all of this (and from a range of parties) is a ‘need’ for specialists or strategists to make sense of this thing called flexible learning, which is fine and to be expected. But also I’m hearing that “we want YOU in our area/centre/team”! Perhaps it’s a symptom of the constant struggle we see between the centre and the local site. As a specialist, I work in a central area and have the good fortune to work with many people covering diverse subject areas. For example, if I was to be ‘coveted’ in one area specifically, does that not diminish my opportunity to work across a range of sites? Why couldn’t I work across sites of learning?

[image: RobertFrancis] AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

Embedding specialists is somewhat different I think. Embedding requires an understanding (by the ’embedded’, the ’embedder’ and the ’embeddee’) about the part the specialist will play in the strategic development in that local site. There is a sense of semi-permanence enough for the specialist to work within the parameters of their ‘placement’, yet still remain attached to the network or ‘centre’ (should there be one), thus remaining connected to other activities and developments.

So why covert specialists? What is at stake here? A specialist is usually part of a special interest network or collective (that validates their ‘specialty’), and can communicate changes and developments in their area of specialty more broadly too. When I say specialty I don’t necessarily mean expertise, rather, I mean a focused area of interest, where one is motivated to delve deeply into that area to uncover more and learn a great deal. When a specialist is ‘coveted’, there is limited opportunity to share one’s learning and growth with others who understand that specialty in similar ways. Also, the propensity to ‘on-sell’ those experiences is of benefit only to that locale, not necessarily to the ‘greater good’ (or the other areas of an organisation, pragmatically speaking).

It is important, from a specialist’s point of view, that one is able to carry ideas, learning and innovations from one site to the next; thus, sharing corporate knowledge and supporting long-term growth, shaped by the diversity of their practice. Specialists then also have the freedom to engage with others in their field of interest on broader matters, keeping the lines of communication open for emerging knowledge, ideas and approaches.

I return to the emergent design thoughts I’ve raised here before. Practice enables understanding. Focused practice develops specialised skills and knowledges. Specialisation returns to practice to benefit others, growing the broader schemata. Thus, research and development fuses with practice-led innovations for the benefit of all, rather than applied as a play-thing for the few to meet immediate (often ill-defined) needs.

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personal spaces :: thinking places

samsblog thinking IM think/write:

. . . reason is that we all have different views and ideas. This group effort has enriched my knowledge of e learning and given me a positive PLE

longtail dreaming? ??

your immersion — contention — assertion

explicate ::

dswaters: @leonardlow there is a debate heating up in about it right now

!the biG BIG jump


Enso ; (円相) . . . symbolizing enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void; it is also an “expression of the moment”.

expression of the moment

expression of the moment

expression of the moment

loosley joined — conjoined — rejoined

. . . Balance is not the same as neutrality. Neutrality only seeks the middle. In kyudo practice we are equally aware of the left, the right, the middle, all of it. How long have you been practicing? One more again, practice. This is my hope . . . – Kanjuro Shibata

holding spacespeople

sharing thingsfeeling

being learningdoing



people feeling doing

people feeling doing

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Wiki + QR code = Semapedia

Reposted from OTN@CIT:

This from the tag via sparkered.

A QR code generated from Wikipedia for use in physical spaces, equals Semapedia.

I tried it out using the kaywa reader and now have the Wikipedia entry to liminality on my phone as I write. 🙂

It works like this:


Image: Semapedia

Imagine some of the applications, if you will:

  • quick lookup of definitions (those that apply to one’s workplace perhaps)
  • find out more about an artist, locale, music band, suburb…
  • orientation information within an institute or business or…

At present this is set up for Wikipedia and other ‘Wikisites’. If opened up to Wikiversity, Wikieducator, etc the possibilities are motivating!

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Social project management in a changing workplace

I was sifting through my Bloglines feeds and came across a slideshow via elearningpost, by Leisa Reichelt. It’s quite timely, as our small team has been looking into refreshing our approach to supporting – and leading the way for – teachers to design and develop online learning in their subjects. Here’s more on “us”

So, I checked out this one:

…then was keen to see what else Leisa had done and spotted this one:

I began this post when I got to this slide which outlines a Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

The following points have me breathing a sigh of relief that others are also thinking along these lines!

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • responding to change over following a plan

In these points I see interaction, responsiveness, collaboration and action, which says to me that we should try refocusing our design process to be FIRST a communicative one, rather than a content-driven one. That is, not WHAT you want to do, but start with the WHY then look at the HOW, before settling on the WHAT.

Project based work and developmental projects really do require a high level of organic activity, to allow room for creativity and growing of an idea. Often, we’re (especially managers insisting on outcomes and deadlines) easily caught up in paperwork, processes and attempting to work with others who have so little time to ponder, explore and indulge in creative activity (because of paperwork and processes!!), that we end up forgetting why we were doing all this in the first place!

I shouldn’t talk in the third-person like this, because really, that’s been my feeling over the past few months – why am I doing this educational design work again? What is it achieving? Well, after some time letting such thoughts and issues percolate, it seems to be that now the time is ripe for some change!

I have attempted to look at our work processes using this diagram to sort of “draft” my own thinking, as we continue to discuss this as a team. I’m liking the emergent bit (think emergent design) and probably need to flesh that notion out more…

Oh, and thanks to Leisa for helping me to get my thinking back on track! :o)

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