At the heart of everything I do are "adult learning experiences". Whether I am coaching, running a workshop, facilitating a meeting or more formally training, my key concern is to create a lasting memory. Oftentimes, when learning something we end up in a formal setting taking notes. These scribbles are seldom revisited more than once. This type of learning tends to be poor in transfer of knowledge and skills. Creating a contextual adult learning experience allows us "get it in the bones" and transform both the thinking and the subsequent acting of the participant.

Towards a definition of Adult Learning Experiences

An Adult Learning Experience is any activity that provides the participant a lasting memory of a lesson learned. Oftentimes,  successful approaches are contextually-driven, experientially-based, transformational in their essence and geared towards adults.

The key components of the learning I create are:

  • Contextually-driven

    • The idea of contextual learning is that learning occurs only when the learners connect information to their own frame of reference (see a.o. Hull* who pioneered the concept)
  • Experientially-based

    • Learning happens through the reflection on what was done. The key is to work with the discoveries and knowledge of firsthand experiences. This in contrast to learning from hearing or reading about others' experiences. The key thinker is Kolb* who developed a the 4 step experiential learning model. In this thinking, all learning goes through 4 stages: the actual experience, the reflection on the experience, the conceptualisation and the active experimentation. The latter feeds back into new experiences which trigger the whole cycle again.
  • Transformational

    • This means the focus is on developing the thinking on an autonomous level. Hence, the thinking (and learning) is not guided by by an authority figure, but based on our own interpretations. This stands in contrast to working with and acting upon purposes, beliefs, judgements, and feelings of others.
  • For Adults

    • All the tools and techniques I use are relevant in the learning of adults. Adults and children have different approaches to learning. Adults learn starting from a framework of past experiences. Children, on the contrary, start clean slate, with every experience being a new one.
  • Community-driven

    • In longer term efforts, like the leadership programme or the inclusive culture transformation I (co-)designed, creating a community of practice (a "tribe" in modern lingo) supports the learning in the long run. A platform to share experiences and where one-another is supported in the reflection and learning, helps to engrain the learning.

My Personal Principles: How I Roll

Where "adult learning experiences" are at the core of my activities (the what), I also attach a lot of importance as to the how of what I bring to the world. The following elements play a role in designing solutions for you:

  • Co-creation & virtual teams

    • is my essence, it represents all I stand for, all I believe in and what I want to bring to the world. However, I am also very aware that for some initiatives flying solo isn't optimal. My intention is NOT of a guru-type. This implies I will bring in the people needed to create the most ideal adult learning experience possible.
    • My promise to you: 5-5-5. I will get together 5 people within 5 working days to start a project within 5 weeks. And this across 3 continents. Connection is part of my essence. For whatever project you have and I propose to, I will be able to line up 5 people to support me in the delivery. I will get them together within 5 working days and they will be able to free up their agenda to be there at the start of a project 5 weeks from now.
  • Ecology

    • I love travelling. However, that is a personal thing. And, I compensate nature for my travelling. I plant trees and maintain green space to compensate for the kerosine and diesel fumes I add and the water I spill using non-recyclables. This doesn't mean I want people to travel to workshops from all over the place, for the sake of seeing each other.
    • I believe in online approaches. Most, if not all of my coaching happens online. The same goes for a good number of workshops and seminars. More complex programmes, like leadership and cultural transformation, consist of a mix of in-person and online. Sometimes creating a joint physical experience is just really relevant.

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References mentionned:

On Contextual learning: Hull, Dan: Opening Minds, Opening Doors: The Rebirth of American Education. (1993). Another great reference is Elaine Johnsons' work: Contextual Teaching and Learning: What It Is and Why It's Here to Stay. (2001).

On Experiential learning: Kolb, David: Experiential Learning: Experience As The Source Of Learning And Development. (1984). And do read this article to have an overview.

On Transformational learning: Mezirow, Jack: Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. (1991).

On Community learning: Wenger, Etienne: Cultivating Communities of Practice (2002)



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