Networking and Learning Online

Critical reflection exercises

Critical reflection exercises

A key element of transformative learning is experimenting with real-world problems. David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle continues to be pivotal. Yet cycles, even spirals, don’t capture the dynamism (and dangers) now available with online and blended learning. Informal means of learning such as podcasts and viral social media posts abound. On one hand, frames have never had more possibility to engage with such a diversity of experiences, bodies, identities, and communities. How to bring feminist and critical pedagogy to these spaces? This paper works to critically frustrate and extend the learning cycle with a hologram which helps to capture online multi-dimensionality as well as distortion. 

Online there is both performance and projection. Holographic visualization offers multiple dimensions, movement, refraction, frustration, doubt. But online learners can be supported to move more consciously to meaning and their own deliberations while embedded in life, work, negotiations. This messiness and muddling is key to the transformative potential of online deliberations. Three key conditions seem to facilitate more transformative learning in online spaces and platforms:

  • allow multiple paths

  • piece the learning well into micro-learnings

  • embrace doubt and contested realities

Online spaces can be shallow and harmful. However, they also have potential to collapse gender and power dynamics in interesting ways as learners shape their own reflective paths at their own pace. These gendered power dynamics are not removed but can be fore-fronted in the learning. The lag between experimentation and insight can be used. Facilitators and peers can act more like coaches, real-time in real messiness. 

Sisters Ink has worked with AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development), the University of New Hampshire and the Coady International Institute on blended networking and learning strategies. Nanci presented a paper at the International Transformative Learning Conference, Columbia University on the experience with the University of New Hampshire “Frustrating the Experiential Learning Cycle.” Write us for a copy.