Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The best laid plans

I'm a fan of almost all things Scottish.
Tonight across the world people will be celebrating Burn's Night. the Birthday of Robert Burns, a man who is essentially Scotland's National poet.
Lots of people will be drinking lots of Whisky and reciting lots of poetry including the Burns Classic "To a mouse"
Burns wrote that poem when he was plowing a field and his plow ran through the nest built by a mouse who scampered away.  The genius that Burns was, he used this to highlight the uncertainties of life for both Humans and Nature.
Towards the end is a verse that is often quoted (all be it in the modern English version)
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Now, what has this ancient rambling to do with 21st century learning? I believe that as Learning Professionals we far too often find ourselves making plans that have no chance of succeeding. I was coaching a colleague earlier this week who was piloting a class. The class was a Virtual Classroom and she was using a technology that she was not that familiar with to run the class.
We discussed just how much 'juggling' she was doing.
New Content - It was a pilot.
New Topic - New to her
New Technology - Again new to her.
With all of that she was surprised that things were taking longer than she planned. The further off timeline she went the more concerned she became.
I helped her to realize that with all the factors she had in place, she was bound to have some issues. I gave her a few pointers about letting go and being more prepared to let the learners set the pace of their learning.
My own ability with that was honed over years of seeing plans get adjusted. I recall hearing Thiagi say ‘Planning is essential; plans are useless’ The act of planning means you get an idea of what your scope is and how you might approach your task. But until you add in the final, critical and most varied ingredient (the learners) you can have no idea of what will really happen.

Happy Learning

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