Institutions or…Building a Learning Infrastructure

Yesterday I talked of how creative insights into how we might teach emerge from “bumping into learners expectations,” and of how some wonderful people had created new tools, or new models of learning, as they had worked their way closer to learners expectations (within the limits of their institutions). In our experience learning is an emergent process, so if you pay attention to learners, and to what they are saying to you, then what you need to do to support their learning will become clear. If you consistently pay attention to learners and the learning needs that they articulate, then you can build a learning infrastructure that supports the learning of others.

In the original Academy, Plato’s in Greece 2,500 years ago, learning was a series of conversations. It wasn’t given to you for just turning up, it was something you made through active participation. In medieval guilds, still found in the City of London, “mastery” in a craft was demonstrated through a process of “show and tell” – this is what I do, this is how I do it.

More recently the first British e-learning guru, Diana Laurillard, discussed how we should be building a “conversational framework for learning” and Gilly Salmon talked of e-mentoring as being a key element of e-learning. My friends in Romania, the Alternativa Universitate, who have their own learning model, or learning journey, organise learning around peer-to-peer mentoring, which is, perhaps, how Romanians share understanding.

So we are forever becoming really close to building enduring “learning infrastructures” but only when we can create alternative spaces in which we can follow the learning, rather than the more traditional follow the money (Paris, Bologna, London I’m looking at you).  Nigel and I have talked about using new participatory digital tools to help create organisational Architectures of Participation. Perhaps we should have described this process as creating “learning Architectures of Participation. We discussed some of the elements of this in Before and After Institutions where we are, perhaps, really describing how we might be Co-creating Learning Institutions with the learners (who turn up and participate). We’ve already described how we might be Co-Creating Open Scholarship so there may be some clues in there.

Since 2010 I’ve been trying to solve the practical problems as to how we might enable learners to create their own contexts for learning. I’ve done this, with the help of many others, by trying to build “Ambient Learning Cities,” starting in Manchester, where we have been trying to “transform the learning environment” by creating learning “beyond the classroom.” The first thing we learned was that nobody wants you to transform anything, even if they are offered €3m (City of Manchester) or £88k (MOSI). We were constantly bumping into institutional prejudices, instead of learners expectations, and discovered their rigid constraints (we have everything we need thank you), rather than participatory engagement. This is great for forcing you into solving new problems, which we did. We replaced textbooks with “digital Cabinets of Curiosities” and high-stakes assessment with Aggregate then Curate, our social media participation model of learning.

The second thing that we learned is that the classroom is a metaphor for learning. Continue Reading »


Teaching & learner-centred learning

In A History of Teaching in 10 Lectures I discussed the quality of accidentally discovering truths about teaching by bumping into the expectations of learners.
This process of bumping into the expectations of learners ended up, for me, in developing a technique I called educational brokering. Captured well in this interview with David Jennings on creating “learner-generated contexts.

Other teachers developed other techniques, and I referred to Bernie Dodge of San Diego who invented WebQuests, or rather co-created WebQuests, with an SDSU class. Back in 1994 and lacking material (or perhaps being unprepared) Bernie decided to run a class as a debate discussing the question “is browsing learning?” He had noticed that people using the, then newly invented, web spent a lot of time “just browsing, thanks.” He thought his class would be split 50/50 and his unprepared 50 minutes would pass easily by in the gentle to-and-fro of debate. Instead EVERYONE said “browsing IS learning, thanks” and so they spent the next 48 minutes inventing WebQuests in order to capture browsing as learning. Or described as Heutagogy, 48 minutes were spent in the co-creation of a self-determined learning tool.

More explicit applied Heutagogy was displayed by the wonderful Thom Cochrane who took the PAH Continuum, which he discovered by just browsing, thanks, and Continue Reading »

Coventry University 19th September 2018

1. That’s what you are paid for!!!
After many years of teaching in the USA and the U.K. I got really good at teaching. I designed my courses, having got approval for the syllabus and curriculum, wrote the handbook, printed off the handouts, prepared the overheads and tried to replace the lecture with workshops, games and discussions. A few weeks into the first time I implemented this approach one of my students asked when I was going to lecture them. I smugly pointed out the genius of my alt.ed approach to which he replied
“You have to lecture us, that’s what you are paid for!”
(Or, put another way, discussion is not seen as “work” and they wanted to see me work “hard” for my money)
Lesson 1 is…?

2. Oxford University, the Lectern…
Of course when I got really good at lecturing, actually really good at e-learning, I was then asked to research it. We first developed the “Community Development Model of Learning” and I was asked to talk about it at Oxford University’s “Shock of the Old” in the new Said Business School in a state of the art lecture theatre. As we were all e-learning gurus they apologised for putting us in a “lecture” “theatre” but explained that they had invented the lecture when they were founded in 1093. They only had 30 books, all hand written, all locked away in the Library. They were unlocked, carried painfully from the library, rested on a “lectern” and then were read out to the assembly. So the original lecture came about because handwritten books were too expensive and each “pupil” was just making a personal copy for themselves to read and understand later; not in the “lecture.” So copying was the original form of education…
Lesson 2 is…?

3. Behind the desk or in front of the desk… (“Teaching” or content-delivery)
Once I had earned some confidence in the classroom I realised I needed to stand in front of the desk rather than behind it. Behind the desk, and the lectern, I was just the distant deliverer of content, in the 1,000 year old Oxford University style, a fake expert because I owned THE text book (just a book of text!). In front of the desk I was open to questioning, an approachable facilitator of learning. Q&A stimulates learning, if your students pop down to the orchard and chat (e-chat is not cheat).
Lesson 3 is…?

4. Misunderstanding the Academy (let students create the taxonomy)
Despite the Renaissance #fakenews about Platos Academy it had a completely non-academic model of learning. It was in 3 parts. Building, Orchard and Gymnasium (German style). Here was no syllabus or pedagogy. You talked to Socrates in the building, who moaned that the emergence of books would ruin memory, chatted to your mates in the garden (read Platos Republic for lots of bits from this part) then exercised to refresh your body and brain. Learning was whatever was left over after that three-part process. Pedagogically curated Education emerged in the exceptionally mechanical 19th century when, first, the Museum Act provided a justification for taxonomies and, second, the Education Act encouraged local authorities to open schools; oh dear
Lesson 4 Is…?

5. Community of Scholars (or community of teachers)
My very first class, scheduled for 50 minutes, lasted just 10 minutes. I rushed through the material delivering all the content I had prepared, asked if there were any questions and fled the room. Straight into the staff room where I poured out my problems to my colleagues. They patiently explained that you had enough material to fill the time IF you included students and went through the material on a step by step basis checking If they had understood what you had said and what problems they had in understanding what you were saying. And add some Q&A which eventually…
Lesson 5 is…?

Continue Reading »

Heutagogy and the Digital Future of Education

Presentation at DTCE Manchester University

This is an overview of my work on digital projects since 1995 and how it might inform us about the future.

If you want to ask questions or have some of the points expanded please post questions below;

Fred Garnett 24 May 2018

April 2018 Bucharest, Romania
This week I ran a workshop with Corina Anghelscu at Universitate Alternativea in Bucharest. She invited UA members to submit questions for me to discuss and, because most questions were on Creativity & Learning we built the workshop around the World Heutagogy Day 2016 workshop resource Creativity in Learning which I curated. The Curated Conversation format is an expression of Heutagogy, I think, and we posed the organising question “Is Heutagogy the Pedagogy of Creativity?” And this resource is based on the replies, along with some photos contributed by Tony Hall to illustrate the themes.
Questions from Universitate Alternativea

1. What is creativity?

2. What are the characteristics of the creative process

3. How to bring social learning into Learning design

4. How to trigger creativity, innovation and self-decisions for learners?

5. How to develop digital tools?

1.  What is creativity?

Big question, which we discussed well. It’s doing something original, for yourself. People often say “we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel” My answer is,  Continue Reading »

World Heutagogy Day Agenda

Tuesday 26th September 2017

The Monastery Manchester

Timings 10.00 – 17.00 BST 

10.00 – Introduction to World Heutagogy Day & its history (Fred)

10.30 – Introduction to iSphere Navigation (David)

11.00 – Curated Conversation on Heutagogy & Healthcare (Live)

12.00 – Local recommendations published online (updated slides)

15.00 – online Tweetup & Storify discussion of Heutagogy & Healthcare #whday17

16.00 – International recommendations published online

17.00 Close


World Heutagogy Day 2017

Heutagogy, Meaning-making and Wellbeing

September 26th The Monastery Manchester

World Heutagogy Day 2017 #wHday17 This year we will be celebrating the 5th World Heutagogy Day, this year in partnership with the Monastery. We will be discussing how the practice of heutagogy might help in developing our meaning making and perhaps help our wellbeing.


Here is an overview of previous World Heutagogy Days, from 2013-2017;

As in previous years we will produce a curated conversation from our discussion, as with the original What is Heutagogy?

Taking Part This blog will track and pull together the resources identified. We ask you to contribute your ideas and point to your work in this area. Discussion will be online on Twitter using the #hashtag #wHday17 and on Facebook in the #myheutagogy group. 

World Heutagogy Day is used to support the idea of Self-Determined Learning, developed around the ideas first expressed by Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon in the paper From Andragogy to Heutagogy. They argue that in the 21st Century we need to think about learning beyond the ideas of pedagogy, teaching subjects to children, and the adult education model of andragogy (Knowles)  and move towards self-determined learning. “The concept of truly self-determined learning, called heutagogy, builds on humanistic theory and approaches to learning described in the 1950s.”

World Heutagogy Day 2016; Last year we discussed whether “Heutagogy is the pedagogy of creativity?”. We produced a workshop  resource for discussing and developing heutagogy as educational practice called Creativity in Learning;