Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

1 February 2012

Layers of learning

Clark @ 5:55 am

As I think about slow learning and Sage at the Side, I want to think about a continuum of tech-enablement. I want to include performance support, formal learning, and meta-learning. One way to think about it is layering on support across the learning event.

Layering learning on top of eventsAs I talked about in Making Slow Learning Concrete, the idea is to have little bits of information layered on top of what you’re doing. Thus, the first level might be to have performance support, to optimize the outcome of the event.

However, a second layer, potentially wrapped before and after the event, would be to connect the essence of the performance to a learning framework. Perhaps not all events would have it, but it would connect the event: context and goals, to a learning framework.  It could be a conceptual model, and certainly could be feedback.

A third layer would be a meta-learning layer.  Looking at any resources used (and perhaps a different one this time than the last), some information could be provided that helped the learner understand their own learning.  It could be reflection support, a map of the learner’s actions, even connecting to a learning mentor, whatever would help them look at how they learned with the purposes of improving their own learning.

With this approach, we start de-coupling learning from a particular event, and start wrapping learning around our lives. I’ve used the label ‘slow learning’, but I really believe that this will feel slower, but actually will accelerate learners to competence faster than the ineffective methods we currently are using.  Lots of tuning to make an experience that feels natural and supportive, as opposed to intrusive, and some real system architecture issues, but I think this is doable, and certainly worth exploring.


  1. I think the key here is that at the meta level you are connecting these events (maybe they’re activities?) as part of a greater experience. Each piece supports a greater whole. That meta-cogntive awareness that what I’m doing in the moment is connected to some bigger purpose helps orient people on where to look *next* — and yeah, I can totally buy that it accelerates learners to competence faster.

    Comment by Aaron — 1 February 2012 @ 7:40 am

  2. One way of building in the meta layer would be to encourage people to openly narrate their work. This should foster reflection at both the individual and network levels.

    Comment by Harold Jarche — 1 February 2012 @ 11:04 am

  3. [...] Layers of learning- Clark Quinn, February 1, 2012 [...]

    Pingback by February’s Top 50 Posts on Working Smarter — 3 March 2012 @ 4:01 pm

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