TIKVAH BREIMER / PROGRAM MANAGEMENT / CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT / ALONGSIDE ADVISORY
PEDAGOGIGS of BLENDED LEARNING PLATFORMS /

HOW DO PROFESSIONALS LEARN?
There is so much out there on how children and teenagers learn (I love Malaguzzi for instance), but what is a deep pedagogics for professionals? One can only know for certain, from decades proof of evidence.

My interest in capacity development of professionals stems from my time as a teacher / trainer for professionals from all over the world at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development (IHS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Here I was inspired by a decades strong tradition of capacity development, both in country and at the institute.

THE RIGHT ANGLE: EXCLUSIVE LIVE TIME, OPTIMALISED
My advisory to you, doesn't start from scratch, when it comes to what makes sense in your situation.

Well before any global lockdown crises, based on the warm informal and technical network our senior expert brought in, Carlos Morales-Schechinger, as two Junior/Mediors in the land team we collaborated closely with the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy LILP.

The LILP has been playing with the idea of optimising life time with senior experts on location for a long time. Considering that the professionals they train are technical experts from across the globe, they offer pre-live time remotely to prepare such training live in the best way possible.

I learnt many logics, from LILP and IHS, in drafting budgets for exclusive live time - and understand which elements don't make sense live really. Considering the most exclusive factor was the time of both the senior teachers/trainers, but often also that of the professionals - who can only get so much time off a job for a training.

Sometimes such live time became even more exclusive, such as when all had to fly in to a certain location, and stay in hotels for that period of time. This exclusive live time can never be replaced with remote leanring platforms - however optimal - but it is interesting how to dissect exactly what is fit for remote/preparation, and what is the beautiful quality of live presence and interaction, at the human level.


Eu gostaria de ser lembrado como alguem que amou o mundo, as pessoas, os bichos, as arvores, a terra, a agua, a vida.
Paulo Freire.

I would like to be remembered as someone who loves the world, people, animals, the trees, the land, the water, life.
Paulo Freire.

ILLUSTRATION: WHY LIVE BECOMES EXCLUSIVE
Let me illustrate. This is Battista Minio. A great pedagogue on biodynamical agriculture. Together with Rina Sciumbata, he set up the Agricultural Cooperative Faggetto Azienda Agricola Agrituristica.

I come - whenever I can. It is exclusive live time. Not because flying in is expensive really though, even as it does impact the climate.

It's exclusive time, because on the whole planet, there is only this Italian architect and pedagogue, who can teach about a zuccini like Battista can.

And you have to be there, when the harvest season is there.

A window of opportunity, just like the olive trees harvest in fall.

Battista's teaching is all in Italian - about the planets, the influence on the soil, the experiments he is doing with the tomatoes looking for the optimum moments to touch the earth, sow, tend, reap.

Rina translates. And then cooks the stars from the sky in her kitchen. Nothing tastes like Italian food with vegetables grown like Battista does. No wonder he supplies to restaurants in the region.

Staying at their agriturismo, is also exclusive time for me. I don't get that many days off in a year, and my time has opportunity costs. A truth for many of your learners too - the more technical seniority will further enhace their opportunity costs. And thus, if you are able to optimise live time, you make your course overall more attractive.

What I make out of this personal experience, is that I wouldn't want to do things in that live time in Italy with Battista, and Rina, that I could have been able to already do from home (make my bookings or, read an article about biodynamic agriculture). Be distracted by my mobile devices instead of having full attention in the present, grounded, there deep into Tuscany when I finally meet them again after all the crisis situations.... Right?

Perhaps, if I really want to make the most out of the exclusive, rare quality time with a pedagogue with this stature, like Battista,
I'd better start preparing my stay, with whatever I can find about bio dynamical agriculture.
So that we can spend our time only on the unique expertise of Battista, his humanity, and on actual relevant questions with answers I couldn've also read on a website about Slow Food Italia, on my flight back.

Allow me to think alongside you some time, even informally. I would enjoy our dialogue, for it will spark off even more understanding of where the world of blended learning is moving.

Global lockdowns were a shared common experience across the globe. All your teachers, trainers, professionals. It added another exclusiveness to live interaction time, and the wish possibly of some to continue to be a bit hesitant about it.
Or for others, the amazing window that finnaly opens up if lockdowns are lifted, to indeed come to meet beloveds in person again. It's also a factor of how special that live time is.

Are you already getting a taste of what blended platforms can do, for the live time of professionals with teachers/trainers?


GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR CONCEPTUAL OPEN BUILDING DESIGN OF BLENDED LEARNING PLATFORMS
How does learning differ for professionals, from let's say, children - and how doesn't it?

To me, capacity development is an authentic interaction between equal experts - yet in different fields. Capacity development, in my experience, can be in many ways similar to interdisciplinary teamwork. Sometimes the one professional teaches the other something from his/her field of expertise, and - even in the same session, or later on - the roles turn.

'Only dialogue truly communicates', as the Brazillian pedagogue Freire wrote (1974 - 2013, p. 43). Capacity development is not a one-way direction, which is why I prefer not to use the term capacity building.

My approach to capacity development is that of an 'alongsider', and of asking questions. By 'alongsider' I mean that as a professional I like to be alongside another professional and see what s/he is already doing. To listen first. And to then start to ask questions. Ideally, I am able to ask good questions; questions to stimulate new understandings, connections, realisations on the way forward, questions rooted in the expertise the professional already has.

That essence - and visual thinking - infused my take on photography that is resilient on a learning platform photography.

Playgrounds are definately also for adults. It would be interesting to integrate not just interaction, but also an environment that is like a playground.

At the same time, I see so many hectic platforms for learning out there. I have a strong take on that, based on the simple truths from real live classrooms.

The essence. Calm. Beauty. Lightness. It is so important for a learning environment. Have a look here, on some first conceptualisations:
art and the quality of the learning environment.

Now how does all of this translate to blended learning? And how can it serve the optimalisation of live time - with the remote presence there too? For as argued above, this has huge budget implications.

And with a screen being so much about 'visual' - how does this translate to an environment that fosters learning by adults? See also under 'art'.




In 2015, as part of a JRC EC workshop that I participated in, we visited the World Expo, that year in Milan.
It was all about food that year. Such an honor, one time in your life. A playground and immersion in architectural awe.


No one knows all the answers about blended pedagogics - yet. And I'm setting out to find more, in a wide exploration and experimentation before I consolidate concepts and approaches in that light, lean open-building framwork within a niche of inspiring learning environments for blended learning.

There are relevant and brave pioneers, and frontrunnders in remote learning for professionals, and here are some preliminary findings:

- The accessibility of lower cost learning environment.
- World wide accessibility.
- Less fysical exchange of people.
- Quality guarantees of trainings offered as compared to more traditional Training of Trainers (ToT) logics, including the possibility of certification.

This is just the beginning.
Stay tuned...


REFERENCES

Freire, Paulo 1974 (2013). Education for critical Consciousness. Bloomsbury Academic, London/New York (UK USA).

Smidt, Sandra 2013. Introducing Malaguzzi; Exploring the life and work of Reggio Emilia's founding father. Routledge, Oxon (UK)