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

27 June 2008

Learning out loud

Clark @ 6:12 AM

In an article I was reading, they mentioned how Patagonia was tracking the environmental footprint of some of their products. The point they made, however, was that doing this was part of their ongoing experimentation/research that they were publicizing to get others to join in towards making this a more sustainable world (my inference). The phrase they used that intrigued me was the quote that they were “learning out loud”.

One of the reasons it intrigued me was that I realized that what I’m doing with Learnlets is indeed ‘learning out loud’. But I hadn’t really reflected on what that could mean, and I think there are some really interesting opportunities here. First, by learning explicitly, we can reflect on our own learning processes, looking at how we learn, essentially initiating double-loop learning.

Second, others can watch us learn, and learn with us. They can also learn to learn. Learning together, we can learn more effectively. I think this is a critical component of the Work Literacy movement looking at how to improve at work; they’re making their thinking explicit and asking for participation.

One of the Big Questions was Should All Learning Professionals Blog, and I replied. My answer then was that all should reflect, and I’ll add now that doing it publicly (blog or otherwise) is an opportunity to have others participate and even add value. Yes, there’s a risk involved, but I’ll suggest you throw ego to the wind, and take a chance on greater learning.

So I’ll keep on learning out loud, and hope to hear you, too. Let’s learn together; better, and have more fun doing it.


  1. Kia ora Clark

    I agree wholeheartedly when you say “that all should reflect”, but I think that how we reflect is also extremely important to the learning. I feel that we must take care over exactly what is meant by ‘reflection’.

    Many people simply cannot reflect in the busy environment that may be a classroom, a face to face discussion elsewhere or even in the solitude of a synchronous chatroom.

    When it occurs, reflection can happen while a person is alone with their thoughts. The mind researchers of today tell us that it can even happen unconsciously such as during sleep.

    Ken Allan

    Comment by Ken Allan — 27 June 2008 @ 6:56 PM

  2. Ken, I absolutely agree that how we reflect is important. Felice Ohrlich did a study where she had people reflect on solving a story with different levels of abstraction, and found the best transfer came from a mid-level of abstraction (a level above surface features, but no so abstract as to be vague). And as you point out, the context can affect the ease of reflection. Thanks for the contribution.

    Comment by Clark — 29 June 2008 @ 12:21 PM

  3. I agree that to learn we must reflect, but I find I need two kinds of reflection. I blog about what I find interesting and/or helpful, but I also need a journal, a private place for reflecting, where I can be extreme and over-the-top without censoring myself. Sometimes having a place to be foolish and/or neurotic can lead to important insights.

    Comment by Joan Vinall-Cox — 30 June 2008 @ 8:10 AM

  4. Joan, you’re right that if it’s going public, it’s somewhat edited. My personal reflections I don’t capture (digital, paper, otherwise) except in conversations. Your point that you may receive important insights is worthwhile, because the act of composing your thoughts often brings out new connections or things you’ve missed. Will have to reflect on that ;).

    Comment by Clark — 30 June 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  5. I think you left out one aspect of the process. Reflection is important, but so is interaction with others ideas. My current research is going to be on the role of collaborative writing on creating knowledge. To often, I find especially young people, very self introspective without getting any stimulation outside of their own thoughts. As a result, they believe their conclusions are the only view point they need, never getting another perspective. So while I agree with reflection being important as a new skill in the twenty-first century, I feel listening and communication (two-way) skills must go hand and hand with reflection.

    Comment by Virginia Yonkers — 4 July 2008 @ 4:40 AM

  6. Virginia, I agree that your reflection can’t be insular, you need to be active and then reflect, but also active in engagement with other ideas. You can reflect on your own actions, but you should be referencing your frameworks as well. So I see two ways: actively engage with others then reflect personally, and be active personally, and then reflect by engagement with others (directly or through available/published frameworks).

    Comment by Clark — 4 July 2008 @ 8:16 AM

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