Monday, 2 July 2007

Critical reflection, knowledge sharing and the learning cycle

Having more or less given up on the concept of tacit knowledge, in terms of completely failing to discover a way of identifying demonstrations of tacit knowledge in blog postings, I've been examining reflection as an alternative route to identifying knowledge with value for the development and improvement of pratice.

In doing so, I remembered the good old learning cycle, developed by Kolb and utilised by Honey and Mumford in their work on learning styles...

Going back to Kolb, I started thinking about his learning cycle in terms of a community of practice, particulary in relation to the concrete experience element. How do people get to know about the experiences of others? Through sharing reflection.

To share experieince, one must have to some extent thought about it. In thinking about knowledge sharing, I've linked what Boud would call Returning to Experience to the 1st stage of Kolb's learning cycle, as this descriptive stage of reflection does not involve a critique, but is merely a description of what happened. To some extent, if we avoid the philosophical debate around knowledge, we can call this, or at least liken it, to explicit knowlege.

Moving onto the next stage of Kolb's cycle, critical reflection, we are considering the emotions and outcomes associated with the experience. This sounds to me something like tacit knowledge...and it's these elements of the experience that hold the utility of the practice - the stuff that we really should be sharing.

If critical reflection can be utilised by a group, they can more effectively validate any reflection, both at the descriptive level, but more usefully, at the abstract conceptulisation and active experimentation stages. This is a powerful medium for testing new outcomes and learning as a group from the experiences of individuals. Each individual thus gains more from the critical reflection of one person than that person alone.




Ideally then, the group learns more individually due to the groups multiple conceptualisations, experiements, reflections and experiences.

Unfortunately, this implies that we must

  • Learn to reflect, descriptively and critically, in terms of repeatable processes and procedures and potential new practice
  • Learn to articluate those reflections, by writing, conversation, networking
  • Learn to read, listen to, review and analyse those reflections in terms of our own practice
  • Learn to collaborate in our abstract conceptualisation
  • Learn to collaborate in our testing of hypotheses generate by our abstract conceptualisation

It's never simple is it...



2 comments:

Jon said...

to discover a way of identifying demonstrations of tacit knowledge in blog postings, I've been examining reflection as an alternative route to identifying knowledge with value for the development and improvement of pratice.

You'd have to ask all sorts of blog authors to footnote their written thoughts extensively .. I have found that reading an author over time, along with other clues like books being read, sites linked to, etc. gives one a "felt sense" about others' tacit knowledge ... conversation and relationship is where it then comes out.

Hence, friendship[s and purposeful exposure of one's background and experience .. i think some blogs are better designed than others to help the reader pull out what she or he needs or is wondering about.

Mishkin Berteig said...

There are many different articulations of the idea of a learning cycle. One of my favorites is formulated and described here: Learning Circle. A list of several of them can be found here: Learning Vocabularies.