Having taken a few soundings — and please complete our short Agile Learning survey if you haven't already, as we're keen to get a broader input — the first meetups are under way in London. In fact, this isn't so much a new activity, as an evolution and gentle morphing of an existing one. More on that in a moment, but first the key points:
This series of meetups began a year ago as the "unplugged" offshoot of the School of Everything, with Dougald Hine inviting a series of fascinating guests. Tony Hall has been co-host, and the meetings have also come under the umbrella of The Learning Co-op. For a while I considered setting up a separate strand of meetings under the Agile Learning banner, but the momentum and energy favour collaboration at the moment. As you can tell, these arrangements are very lightweight and flexible, so new paths may emerge, fork or diverge further on.
As a form of collective self-discipline, we set aside two meetings this month to reflect on the meetups so far and to plan directions for the future. The photo above (by Tony Hall) is of the first of these sessions, three weeks ago. Given the voluntary, self-selecting attendance at the meeting, I guess it was inevitable that most people had mostly positive things to say about the meetups they'd attended. We talked about practising what we preach in terms of self-organised learning groups. Fred Garnett referred to Mike Wesch's work on organising groups according to their learning purposes (I think this link refers to that) and the WEA's Learning Revolution project was also mentioned.
Paul and Russell from School of Everything described their new service to support groups, to be known as "circles", following the example of study circles in Sweden (appartently half the Swedish population are members of a circle). The educational power of groups and networks stems in part from exposing you to ideas and experiences that you wouldn't otherwise have come across. We thought it would be worth exploring how the meetup group could itself become such a circle — at the same time as being a meta-level support mechanism for other circles.
This morphed into a discussion of what kind of support — if any — would be helpful for self-organised learning. The reason the "Hole in the Wall" findings get so much attention is that they seem to beg the question of whether learning requires any support, let alone teaching. The Wikipedia entry for this approach calls it "minimally invasive education".
Where next? Evolution, not revolution. Here are some things we could do in future meetups
I still harbour ambitions for an online resource base, curated by a community a practice. That's for the longer term: for now I'm experimenting with a personal collection of resources at a new Agile Learning Amplify site. Meanwhile, if you're near London, come along tomorrow. If you're not, what's you experience of similar groups and meetups? What would you do to make them work well?
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