Informal learning - Saffron Interactive

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Informal learning - Saffron Interactive

A short detour along theroute from novice to expertFormallearningInformallearningTypes of behaviourNoviceAdvanced BeginnerCompetentProfi cientExpertThe journey from novice to expert was neatly describedby Hubert Dreyfus and is captured in the diagram above.Most people can immediately identify with this journeyin the context of the acquisition of a skill such as ridinga bike or playing a musical instrument. To explain theimportance of this insight, let’s walk through the model inthe context of learning to drive a car.The Novice driver may be taught to change gear withreference to the speedometer, hence the instruction– when you get to 10 miles per hour change into secondgear. After a while, we master these simple activitiesand move to the stage of Advanced Beginner. At thisstage we start to consider situational elements, so thespeedometer may read 10 miles per hour but if the brakelights are showing on the car in front, this may not be agreat time to change up. Once we have started to masterthese situational elements we move to the next phase,that of the Competent performer. We are now aware ofthe complexity of what we are doing and we start to dealwith complexity by overlaying a personal plan. In drivingterms, instead of going where the instructor tells us, weare involved in planning our route ahead of time – weno longer just drive around, but instead we drive with apurpose. As such, we are involved in the outcome of ouractivities but may still have a limited understanding of thebigger picture and be detached from decision making.In time we develop into a Profi cient performer. By nowwe have substantial experience and start to recognisepatterns of events and associate solutions that haveworked before with certain patterns of events. Theprofi cient driver will spontaneously adjust their plannedroute or driving style to suit emerging circumstance;we are fully involved in the bigger picture and takeownership of the outcome but still may be detachedfrom decision making.Finally, we attain Expertbehaviour. In this state the driver is no longer engagedin operating a machine but rather is fully engrossedin the driving experience. We are at one with theroad; we often are unaware of what gear we are in orconsciously thinking about our actions. The expertdecides intuitively – we just know.Interestingly, under conditions of extreme stress orcrisis, the expert can fall back into novice or advancedbeginner mode and start following rules.This isdangerous because they are neither used to or practicedat following rules. This partially explains why expertsoccasionally do incredibly dumb things, sometimeswith catastrophic consequences.The transition from Novice to Advanced Beginner isessentially associated with rule following behaviourand this is best facilitated through formal learningprocesses. However, the transition from competentthrough profi cient to expert is largely associated withpattern recognition and experience. It can only beattained within the performance context. It is rooted inthe acquisition and sharing of tacit knowledge and thisis fundamentally a social process – it needs prolongedand deep engagement with other expert practitioners.This is the domain of informallearning.Advance, © Saffron Interactive 2007 3

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