Good Education

I was reading an article on  Good education the lecture frames education as a public rather than solely private good, and argues that we talk about learning (an individuated idea) too much the whole lecture is stimulating to read but what stuck me about my current work was this section:

A second tendency that has contributed to the marginalisation of questions about good
education can be found in calls for turning education into an evidence-based
profession based on research knowledge about ‘what works.’ Again, I do think that
to a certain extent it can be useful to examine the effectiveness of particular
educational practices and procedures, as long as one bears in mind that in the social
domain there are at most probabilistic relationships between actions and consequences
and never deterministic relationships between causes and effects

This resonates with my experiences, but challenges me to think about what to I do to do good as an educator in the meteorological world.

I am just staring to look at the ‘what works’ research in the field of meteorological education. There is a some published work out there.

but what does Good meteorological education mean? …

GOODEDUCATION–WHATITISANDWHYWENEEDITInauguralLectureProfGertBiesta.pdf (application/pdf Object).


Cloud particles from Space

EUMeTrain has just published a nice resource on detecting cloud microphysics from space

Responsibility in class …

I recently facilitated a hour long session for meteorology instructors from around Europe.

The session took place part the way through a week long conference. So I had had time to get to know people, and people to get to know me a little. The session was a very open exploration of what helps students get engaged in a class room. I decided to give the group an experience of facilitation so that they would be able to see what one possible to lectures might be, and to be able to reflect openly on what keeps then engaged and learning during the process.

At the end of the session I was asked what my plan was .. I expressed it as boundary conditions:

We have till 4pm, and we will work together on something – or experiment and play.
We’ll do something on learning activities and what is possible in the class room.
Working on the issues people raise
Giving people the opportunity to reflect on a Group experience as it happens.
Giving people and experience of facilitation to reflect on.
My plan is to ask the group what they would like to work on and then see what happened next.

I was hoping that this would give an experience of engagement and some of the other issues that might be raised.

People said they enjoyed the experience and  being given the opportunity to reflect in the moment on how they were engaging and learning. It also sparked some discussion about learning in the workshop forum.

One of the areas I reflected most on after the event was what it was like letting people sit with open questions. At times I would ask people how they were doing, and some would state that they were frustrated waiting for the answer or someone to say what should happen next. The group was working it such a way that honest disclosure and feedback was possible, and happening.

Some participants noted that I was encouraging them to be responsible for what happens in the “class”, I was not taking responsibility away from them; which was quite unusual in our classrooms.

How does learning work?

At a recent conference I attended someone was asking about the role of psychology in learning. A colleague followed up with a book recommendation (How learning works), and summary – I haven’t read the book but will, but I like the question the book answers How does learning work? I think this is quite a big, but interesting area, here are some thoughts that the question.

During the workshop I mentioned Terry Anderson et al’s book on eLearning. Chapter 1 contains a nice summary of different schools of learning. (here is a link to chapter one ).

These schools of learning get to some of the assumptions we might make when we try to answer the question “how does learning work?”

I tend to work from a constructivist perspective, the thing I try and remember is that this is my preference rather than what is right …

Try it for your self – what are some of the assumptions you make about how people learn ….. do those assumptions apply to you?

Actually how do you learn? How have you learned how to learn?

I took a course on Adult learning some years ago – the first module was to learn something and then write a critical reflection on how we had learned and how we knew we had learned something. I found it hard to do at first because I had to develop an awareness of what I was doing, thinking about learning how to learn was new to me. If you are thinking about getting more into learning it might be a very helpful exercise.

A colleague also made the comment “One final word–not all that we know about good educational practice comes from psychology. It also comes from experience and reflection about what works”.

I very much agree with that idea – I think workshops like ours are a very important part of reflecting on our experiences of what works and what didn’t. If anyone has links to publications on such reflections I would appreciate seeing them. The book I mentioned in an earlier post is one such resource – it is an extended reflection by a group of people thinking about what works from experience in distance and online learning.

One area I think we are becoming more aware of is the importance of emotional connection in our learning contexts. Pat Parrish has written about this in some of his work on instructional design.In a course I attended the facilitator started the event by asking people to recall their first shift and if they were willing share what that felt like, I used it in a recent course and it helped the people on the course connect what we were learning with their “real world”, it also helps create a positive emotional space for learning, where we value each other.

What do you think – does a positive emotional space matter – how? How do we co-create one? Does emotional connection matter, what does it mean to be emotionally connected or engaged in a learning process?

And what does it mean for us as trainers/facilitators/educators/organizers? what makes it a meaningful experience for us, what effect does that have on the courses we organize?

Connected with this is what we disclose about ourselves in learning environments, it is helpful when students and teachers hare about their own experiences, but we can sometimes over share. Some one at the workshop raised the issue of In the online environment how do we facilitate an environment where people will share from their own experience? What is the role of anonymous identities of logins?

Some people are more comfortable with their online identity than others – and there is some work now being done on what it feels like to work and learn online. for example, an interesting paper challenging the idea of digital immigrants and digital natives and covers the idea that online learning feels a little strange – not like learning as we know it.

Some resources on facilitation

I was recently asked for a list of facilitation related books that might be useful for a trainer.  Below are some resources. My caveat is that I learned more from reflection on expe4rince of working in groups and facilitating than reading.

Facilitation pocketbook – a small handbook with good tips and ideas.

Online resource on facilitation:

Participatory workshops, Written for social development practitioners (so no power point) but applicable in the world of meteorological training. It is 21 lists of 21 ways to increase involvement in workshops. (by Robert Chambers)

Participatory decision making – this is a guide for facilitators working in group discussion and decision making

Visual meetings – how to work with flip chart and paper to increase participation

Flawless consulting – this is more about business consulting, it thinks a lot about the relationships between client and consultant (trainer) and who is responsible for what. Helpful for people in training management roles

Handbook of action research (and learning) – action research covers a whole field of learning from experiences. by doing

Online resources on action research – a good list is available from

On becoming a person story of a psychotherapist who decides to work in a more person centered manner, an interesting reflection of how clients (students) and helpers (trainers) can relate for good change.

Do add to this list if you would like!