Co-producing comprehension

Each of us has too much experience producing comprehension in isolation. We reach our own conclusions among others doing the same. The co-production of comprehension will seem inconceivable, infeasible and far-fetched to many experienced learners. Here's a few of the attributes of successful co-productions:
  • Shared interests in deepening a particular comprehension: Learners all have experiences sharing interests with others in getting good grades, getting through an ordeal, getting out of requirements and getting to advance to the next phase. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, there are shared interests in the subject matter, it's uses, varied viewpoints about it and much more. Where this is impossible in physical gatherings, online connectivity makes it possible to find others with these particular shared interests.
  • Transparent disclosures: Formal instruction breeds learners who are acculturated to covering up ignorance, denying mistakes and making pretenses of competence. It appears self-defeating to be transparent when pressured to conform. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, it makes sense to reveal one's own actual condition. Admitting what is understood, what remains confusing, what appears useless, and what personal experiences relates to this -- all cultivate trust, respect and bonding.
  • Making requests of others: When we're getting instructed without being in control of the timing, topic, approach or relevance, we feel powerless. We try to make things happen by eliciting sympathy from others. We create problems with our motivation, attention, retention and comprehension to get others to stop forcing us to learn. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, we stop seeking sympathy. We switch into problem solving mode and ask for help in finding solutions to obstacles as we deepen our comprehension. We see others as problems solvers who will easily understand where we're coming from when we request their help.
  • Responding promptly to others' requests: When we're getting mismanaged, overworked, underutilized and exposed to lots of toxicity, we become unresponsive. We're wary of getting taken advantage and experienced with people who "take a mile when we give an inch". When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, we want to respond quickly to others' requests of us. We see how it pays intangibly to give to others when their request in specific and. Their transparency has built up social capital that facilitates our responsiveness.
  • Utilizing the available diversity: When getting railroaded into the same understanding, diversity among the learners is a problem, distraction, setback or disruption in the uniform progress. The situation pressures the participants to think alike, suppress their differences and conform to expectations. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, the diversity among learners is essential, inherently valuable and cultivated by every participant. The deeper comprehension depends on differing outlooks, connections and uses for it. Each gets treasured for bring a treasure of uniqueness to the co-production.
  • Phased development of deeper comprehension: When content is being delivered, it's too common that the instruction takes off without everyone on board, gets ahead of many and lets most fall behind. The pacing and depth cannot accommodate the variety of participants. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, each has a map or game board that lays out the terrain to be explored and integrated. It becomes obvious when an exploration is taking on too much, getting ahead of oneself or avoiding the next challenge. Each can support the others in moving forward in stages without imposing uniform progress on everyone.
  • Contributing useful labor: When an instructor appears to be "going through the motions", offering useless information, or defying what makes content actionable, we learn by example to do the same. Our labor in groups is equally unproductive, heartless and useless. When deeper comprehension is successfully co-produced, each participant contributes highly useful work. Their efforts get appreciated in ways where they see how to be even more valuable and responsive. A virtuous cycle gets created with the transparency, requests, responsiveness and gratitude. This continues to energize and focus each contributors efforts.
The successful co-production of deeper comprehension is a radical change from conventional instruction. It involves these highly evolved ways to inter-relate and depend on each other. It comes from a place of significant compassion and creativity that indicates the absence of fear. It calls for us to evolve our consciousness to join in so much harmony and mutual benefit.


  1. This is a great list. I would just clarify two things: Responding promptly to other's request does not necessarily mean "giving them the answer" or even "doing the work". I can be as simple as, "I don't know the answer to that...let's work it out together in a minute." Sometimes, I need just a few minutes to mull over the request. In our society, especially, if there is no response, it means you have made a mistake or insulted the other person. It is important to let the other person know you have heard them and understand them, but need time to think it over.

    Related to this is the lack of "time" for each of these points that is given in a traditional class. There seems to be such a push for immediacy that there is no time for a person to be transparent, contribute labor that might not be the best (as there needs to be skills developed), time to determine who has what skills and thus can be accessed by others, etc...

  2. Thanks for adding to this, Virginia. You're refinements to the concept of responsiveness are on my wavelength. I suspect that responsiveness could be taken wrong when the learners are trying to complete an assignment rather than deepen their comprehension. They help they'd ask for would let them off the hook, lighten their load or cheat them out of thinking for themselves. When the learners are in pursuit of deeper comprehension rather than task completions, I suspect they would seek out peers for different perspectives, examples, questions to ponder and parallels in other disciplines.

    The time crunch seems inescapable to me when the factory model is applied to learning. It stops everyone on the assembly line to indulge one learner's desire for attention, depth of understanding, tutoring or tie-ins to their own experiences. There's an implicit message sent that says "don't be transparent, don't make requests and don't deviate from the standard level of takeaway value". Nearly everyone gets that message and wonders "what got into that weird?" that shows too much interest, asks too many questions, reveals too much personal context, ponders too many possibilities and makes too many requests. I'm hopeful a second generation of online experiences can create these experiences finally.