Learning products

Heike Philp recently made this comment in response to Media & Messages:

What I am sorely missing right now are ‘learning products’. To me a product has product specifications (specs) just as much as a computer has a list of specs or software has a list of features.

The fascination of Pecha Kucha for me is, that this simple idea could be patented and that it is a ‘product’, it has specs, the specs are ‘20 slides auto advancing 20 sec’.

In the light of lots of IM software out there, a Tweet is a ‘product’ because it has 140 characters.

So, where right now in the vast ocean of fuzzy connectivism and informal learning experiences are the products?

We are always talking about tools. Is this because these seem to be “the products” out there right now?

I use my personal knowledge mastery (PKM) process for some of my own sense-making, involving several internally (sort, categorize, make explicit, retrieve) and externally (connect, exchange, contribute) focused activities:

Here’s a first look at some of the learning “products” that can be created:

Sort & Categorize: lists; taxonomies; topic maps; mind maps

Make Explicit: constrained note-taking; written observations; graphical representations; audio recordings; video recordings

Retrieve: problem-solving; pattern-sensing

Each of these can be made more explicit; such as creating specific lists for a project. The resulting products can all be aggregated as part of a personal learning environment.

Individuals can also Connect – Exchange – Contribute with others through their learning “products”. For example:

  • Bookmarks (and any comments or tags) become a way of connecting to other lists & topics when they are put on the Web and made social.
  • Moving from reading and viewing content to making comments is a way of exchanging information, instead of just consuming it.
  • Developing new ideas and posting these on the Web as blog posts, slide shows, or recordings contributes to the ongoing conversation that may become part of a field of interest or even a discipline.

Looking at this from the perspective of a learning professional, I would suggest combining the use of tools with an understanding of the higher processes shown in the diagram above. That means that you don’t really have to decide upon particular tools and can leave that to individual preferences. For instance, if you want to use blogs for teaching, you can specify the “learning products” you are looking for, but it does not matter what blog platforms are used. I can see a large number and wide variety of learning products that can be developed around these PKM processes.

4 Responses to “Learning products”

  1. Heike Philp

    Hi Harold,

    Thank you for reflecting on this and thank you for engaging in such a discussion which is prompted by my own simple observations that I am forever suprised why in e-learning there seems so much fuzz about tools so that often we talk about nothing but tools.

    Compared with the building industry, architects do not pride themselves with which kind of tool they used to create their products: buildings, suburbs, streets, towns.

    I am a little confused because what you describe above is what I would call ‘Learning outcomes’.

    But are learning outcomes really the same as learning products? Is the learning process (discussions, reflective writing, learning to learn etc) not like the building process, a needed discipline on how to get there but where? Are our learning products MBAs, diplomas, certificates, are the CD Roms, WBT or gadgets?

    Thank you for allowing me to think out loud. I am aware that I sound confused.

  2. Harold Jarche

    What do you think would be the learning products, Heike? I’m not big on learning outcomes myself, as my field of practice is the workplace, and I prefer to focus on performance outcomes.

    My intent in this post was to show a separation between tools and what is created by the person. In that way, we don’t think “wiki”, but “collaboratively developed document” instead.

  3. Heike Philp

    Hi Harold,

    The product of some research could be a white paper or a phd, the product of training expertise a course with a specific set of specifications to it such as how many hours, course objectives, course content, certificate, MBA etc.

    This is sort of the ‘standard’ in the learning industry.

    What I mean with products is though a duplicable, reproducable learning product or concept like for example the concept of Pecha Kucha.

    To deliver such a presentation calls for mastery on behalf of the presenter, is a great learning experience because of concise thoughts, concise English, concise presentation techniques,t pace, pausing etc. and the ‘learning outcome’ is a presentation in a speedy presentation format, a product that can be published and shared.

    So we have a learning experience, a learning process, a learning outcome AND a learning product.

    Similar to this, I think that more learning products other than courses or certificates are out there.

    Can you think of any?

    Spontaneously a mindmap comes to mind. This is also a great learning product I find.

    Or is it a product?

  4. ggatin

    I think it is a question of learning being more an attitude or property of individuals than products, or institutions for that matter.

    Individuals can learn by using courses, textbooks, online tools or notes scribbled on the back of a cigarette pack.

    Depends how deeply you have been institutionalized.


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