Enthusiasm of innovation meets reality of practice
When we received government funding to implement a Continuous Professional Learning project, were confronted with the enthusiasm of innovation meets reality of practice dilemma. Initially, lots of research, discussion and reflection enthused us because of the possibilities and opportunities that abounded. The project proposal distilled our enthusiasm into innovative concepts that received thumbs up from the review panel. Exciting times … then the reality!
My first epiphany, was that when the reality of project commencement arrives, the criticality of business needs, outcomes and relationships must subsume the project not the other way around. It was in this context I remember the CEO we were working with saying, ‘I think we need to take a step back and review how the project is structured’. Enthusiasm and reality collide!
The need to ‘pause’ for a moment reminded me of a safety poster I once saw that stated: In case of emergency have a cup of tea. The intent of that message was that, often we rush in and compound problems (e.g. emergencies) rather than pause for a moment, explore the options and choose the best alternative. In a sense, this is what we did allow enthusiasm and reality to co-exist. The TAEDEL501A became the framework for the project – it seemed to divide nicely into 4 parts to match to the 4 phases of our project, which in turn matched the key business milestones. A perfect match? Maybe … however it was action learning in ‘real’ action.
I remember (others might too) when the Flexible Delivery Working Party released a document, From Desk to Disc, exhorted the need for orienting learners as a critical success factor. To give you a sense of how long ago it was, the Disc was floppy – not compact! The concept of orienting the learner, or learner readiness, is as critical today in learning as it was last century. Orientation is a great way to generate enthusiasm … the mention of new tablet devices certainly did that … as well as providing information, discussing expectations and preparing the learner.
Then came my second epiphany – a key element to workplace learning is the intentional structuring of participative activities. As our aim was to enhance the quality of teaching, learning and assessment our intentions were enacted by consciously planned activities that were explicit and clearly articulated. The consciously planned bit however, is more a journey than a destination! So when the enthusiasm of innovation meets reality of practice … remember you have to start somewhere, so let your imagination run free and then fit it into reality.