A group of my students studying knowledge based performance are each asked to research a separate topic and then write about it in a wiki. They insert links in the context of their own topic to the topics researched by other students to demonstrate the interdependence of each field. After this has been done they are asked to engage in a “Conversation that Matters” (see Jan 4 post) about the relationships between each of the topics. Whilst they have this conversation, the links each student highlights are marked on the board and additional key topics mentioned are added. The picture above is one output of this conversation (as are notes, mindmaps etc recorded by students). This image becomes a memory jogger for them at a later time which enables them to recall more details of the conversation.
More important are the outcomes of the conversation. Discussing the learning experience, the students feel they have a greater depth and scope of understanding and a richer perspective of how interrelated the “different fields” actually are. They believe the conversation is a great way to learn and provides a better sense of connection between topics. They also relate to each other better as they have shared knowledge and helped to deliver a higher quality of learning for all members of the group.
Collaborative learning techniques such as this enable everyone to contribute and a range of perspectives to be aired, opening up fresh insights for those who did the detailed study of the topic. Because there is no script, the flow of the conversation depends on when each person decides to contribute and this is influenced by the strength between their topic and the one being discussed in the moment. Typical complex interaction, if repeated a different sequence of events, but now having done this many times- similar patterns arise. As an aside it is interesting to note how many of these knowledge related themes come back to decision making.
The face to face conversation makes a useful addition to the wiki and the “verbal wiki image” is a good complement to both. Combining individual effort with collaborative development and the rich image makes the learning experience more significant for all members and much more useful than each participant researching all topics.