Questions, Assumptions and Conversation

Chris posted here about questions that could spark conversation

We were are hired to help facilitate something around a question that comes up, we have to remember that what we are doing is taking something out of the flow of work, turning it over and returning it to the stream.  Unless we are involved in deep systemic change – where the banks of the river change as it were – our work is about diverting some time and attention from the mainstream.

I think the 3 phases that Chris mentioned – Invitation, Hosting and harvesting, and Integration are extremely useful for the organisation consultation and facilitation, and could equally be applicable and useful  in the facilitation of online forum, blog conversation and community of practices sessions.

I do find that questions and assumptions always go hand-in-hand as elaborated here about Information Technology (IT) and online learning.  This could then lead to more critical questions on the basic assumptions made in any learning scenarios, and thus form the basis of conversations and dialogues in blogging and forums.

I have once written the Assumptions Theory that is important in applying the principles in situated learning or evaluating any learning theories.

For instance, what are the fundamental assumptions about Personal Learning Environments?  In this paper by Ilona Buchem, Graham Attwell and Ricardo Torres.

The central research question guiding this review was: What are the characteristic, distinguishing features of Personal Learning Environments?

They elaborated the importance of questions and assumptions:

The myriad of open questions makes clear that the PLE concept necessitates examination of some common assumptions and practices. This report expands upon previous literature reviews by Johnson, et al. (2006), Schaffert & Kalz (2009), Fiedler & Väljataga (2010). We assume that this is the first systematic analysis of PLEs based on the Activity Theory model.

In this post of Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native’ by Gerald, the assumptions made about digital natives were investigated and challenged:

“We found no evidence for any discontinuity in technology use around the age of 30 as would be predicted by the Net Generation and Digital Natives hypothesis,” says the report. What the researchers do find interesting and worthy of further study is the correlation – which is independent of age — between attitudes to technology and approaches to studying. In short, students who more readily use technology for their studies are more likely than others to be deeply engaged with their work.

“Those students who had more positive attitudes to technology were more likely to adopt a deep approach to studying, more likely to adopt a strategic approach to studying and less likely to adopt a surface approach to studying.”

So, if what the research revealed is correct, then the assumptions about digital natives and net generation would need to be considered in light of their attitudes to technology, rather than their age.  This also requires reflective thinking and collaborative inquiry.

In conclusion, questions, assumptions when raised and shared in networks and Community of Practice or Interest (COP or COI) would likely spark conversation.  Such conversation would be the basis in organisation and networks learning and development.   Without conversation, learning would be limited.  Conversation would then be the organic “blood streams” which connect the actors. The dialogue and conversation would likely be mediated through social media and networks, as collaborative, appreciative and connective inquiry.  Such inquiry would often deepen the understanding of the phenomenon, principles of theory and application of theory in education and learning scenarios.

Further research is needed to reveal the importance of questions and assumptions in research in networked and community learning.