Another layer to bridging the work and learning communities

During the past couple of years I have become much more intentional in my attempt to bridge two communities: The people who think about learning and network technology, and people who think about work (within organizations) and network technology.

There is another layer to this: It’s people in these two communities who care about people and society.

I am reminded of that after re-reading Sean Michael Morris’ The Critical in Critical Pedagogy, an opening piece for the start of MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy.

Sean and the editorial crew at Hybrid Pedagogy (the conspirators behind the MOOC MOOC series) get it right. Have gotten it right for a few years now. They inspire a reflective conversation among education practitioners who care deeply about their practice and its social impact. The conversation allows for admitting you may be wrong. And that becoming a reflective practitioner is a strenuous journey.

A hat-tip to MOOC MOOC, then, as a map for us.

For me, the take-away is to find the right dynamic between the value gained from experimenting with “technical solutions” and the mission of having those solutions put into service of the public good. I mean “technical solutions” in the larger sense – not just information technology, but practices, models and approaches.

The right dynamic comes from being a reflective practitioner.

I see the struggle around finding this dynamic in one of the classes I co-teach. We’re working on a project with a global organization to see if we can help develop a new, innovative structure to accelerate the good work that is making the organization diverse and inclusive. We have a lot of technical approaches to potentially apply or adapt to meet this challenge. All of the students are experienced, working professionals who can bring a great deal of clever thinking to the challenge.

But in a recent class discussion there was also a deeply-felt theme that developed around a vision of trying to ensure that the technical solution not only improved key metrics but also addressed a cultural shift. Yes, we hear words to that affect a lot. But this conversation struck me as authentic. It strikes me as authentic, I suspect, because each of the students has traveled that journey to become a more reflective practitioner. I know that during the journey they’ve dealt with the possibility of being wrong. And there is something powerful in that.