My Personal Learning Theory ! Your Thoughts?

I believe that God designed life to be a set of tribulations that we have to overcome based on our personal beliefs and values.  The journey of life is designed as a continuous improvement system (design-based research for academic world) with scaffolded learning where our previous learning helps us prepare for the next learning.  In order to be successful in this journey of life, the individual has to question their purpose in life, know themselves (strengths and weaknesses) and be crystal clear on their personal values such that their personal values serve as a guiding light in their decision making especially the difficult decisions.

Most of my learning beliefs come from the way I was raised, the experiences that I have had, my structured engineering education, the 35 years of experience with 30 of those years as a leader in the organization, founder of three startups and the formal trainings over the years in the areas of technology, leadership, certified trainer, executive coach, etc.  My academic learning beliefs learning started in the last 2 years as a clinical professor as well as a PhD student in learning technologies.  I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that led the development of a new Problem Based Learning pedagogy program in Project Design & Analysis for UNT at Frisco.  In my book, Cultivate Your Leader, I have a chapter dedicated to learning where I mention that a leader cannot get complacent, the minute you stop learning you die.  I go on to recommend 7 things that individuals should do to continue to develop as a leader which are:

  1. Reading / Videos / Podcasts
  2. Formal Training
  3. Creating a personalized advisory board
  4. Networking
  5. Peer to peer mentoring
  6. Learning from younger generation
  7. Teaching

My learning philosophy is mostly anecdotal based on my beliefs and values with recent exploration in research-based theories as part of my PhD learning in the areas of Learning Technologies.  In addition to the above seven recommendations for learning in the corporate world, I also have a strong belief that “Failure is the best Teacher”.  The heartache of failure will allow you to become more resilient and your next attempt will be much better as long as you have learned lessons from the fast by reflecting on the key (top 3) things in the following categories.

  1. What went well?
  2. What did not go well?
  3. What would we do different next time?

In order to learn, first people should have a desire to learn, the learning objective needs to align with how the learning will help the individual attain excellence in one or more of their personal objectives or values, without that drive an individual is just going through the motions of learning.

Second, each encounter you have is a learning opportunity, one has to realize it and take advantage of it.  It could be formal, informal, from your boss, peers, subordinates, advisory board members, reading an article, etc.

Third, I am a big fan of “learning by doing”, be bold, be brave, take a chance, try it, fail, fail fast, fail often, get back up, reflect and try again.  Be smart about risk, take calculated risks by properly weighing in all the actions.

Fourth, I also say, “teaching is the best form of learning”, I always encourage my mentees to teach by writing and presenting for the team or conference or blogging at the minimum and better still teach by going as guest lecturer or an adjunct professor.  In order to teach, one has to learn first and then each time you facilitate, you learn from everyone around you which is why teaching is the best form of learning.

My personal learning philosophy along with personal learning philosophy of my peers at New College have helped us shape the new degree program for UNT at Frisco.  We have not rallied around a single research-based learning paradigm or key concept in this program but built on a few connected learning paradigms and key concepts under the pedagogy of Problem Based Learning.  The BS in Project Design & Analysis degree program at UNT Frisco is being delivered in Research Based Learning framework includes the following learning paradigms and key concepts from the concept map shown below:

  1. Constructivism: Fundamentally focuses on the fact that the learner is not a passive recipient of knowledge, but knowledge is constructed by learner.
  2. Meaningful Learning: New knowledge to acquire is related with previous knowledge.
  3. Experiential Learning: Knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. The learner must:
    1. Be able to reflect on the experience
    2. Use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience
    3. Make decisions and solve problems to use the ideas gained from the experience
  4. Discovery Learning: Learners obtain knowledge by forming and testing hypothesis
  5. Learning Styles: Optimal learning demands that students receive instruction tailored to their learning styles.
  6. Organizational Learning: A characteristic of an adaptive organization that is able to sense changes in signals from its environments and adapt accordingly.
  7. Community of Practice: Groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

Next week, we will review to see how these seven learning paradigms or key concepts have been applied to the BS degree program for UNT at Frisco.