Learning to be effective

After proposing an eventual M.Ed in Informal Learning last month, I created a new category on this blog: affecting learners to explore one facet of this competency. Since then I've explored four facets of pedagogical effects on learners:
Having effects on others can only be learned by feedback. We can only answer the question "How did I do?" if the people "we did it to" will tell us how we did. Knowing about the effect is almost entirely unrelated to having the actual effect. Trying to be effective with good intentions, clear concepts and articulate explanations "puts the cart before the horse".

We can learn by discovering what effect we're having, what change in effect occurs when we change our approach and what different effects occur among different learners. One way to learn from feedback is a scorecard that gets annotated by the learners we are affecting. Electronic voting systems can be polled with these scales also.

To use these metrics, the learners need to become "informed consumers". Power needs to be given to them to judge the effects on them precisely. We need to accept the increased accountability implied by measuring up to these standards.

We have an Academic Effect on learners when we make them dependent on our power, controls or authority. They will feel damaged in the ways I described in Asking to be kidnapped. When we have a Pedagogical Effect, the learners will be more curious, self confident, self motivated and creative.

We have a Hypocritical Effect when we contradict what we say with how we act, react or decide to respond. We lose our credibility as it becomes obvious that we cannot be taken at our word or trusted to provide an example worthy of imitation. When we have a Productive Effect, the learners have followed our example, tried out what they saw us do and now get the same results we produce.

We have a Controlling Effect when we trash the relationships with the learners. We may complain about them or blame them as if we have no effect on them. We may criticize, bribe or disgrace them in order to subdue their adversarial tactics. When we have a Relationship Effect, we are getting everyone understood. We are speaking their minds.

We have an Isolating Effect when we disregard the glaring disconnects. We fail to tie things together or develop context of their uses for the learning. The educational experience appears to have no relevant connections and we appear unrelated to the learners. When we have a Network Effect, the vast number of connections bring about emergent outcomes. Small efforts are amplified into big repercussions and the results we want fall into place easily.

By making ourselves accountable in these ways, the learners will show more respect to us, get more value from us and do more learning on their own in the future.


  1. Angela Maiers9/16/2007 6:23 PM

    This is brilliant! You have put into words so eloquently the missing pieces of our educational dialouge. When we shift the focus to understanding learning rather than what we are teaching, transformation is not only possible, but as you clearly state probable.

  2. Angela: Thanks for letting me know that you're reading archive posts of mind and finding value in them :-)