Malaysian Heat Experiential

I am working with two new clients in Malaysia, delivering Experiential Training the Trainer courses in Kuala Lumpur, a buzzing city that is warm and humid. My friend Roger Greenaway (visit his great Reviewing Skills website) is also working out here focussing on review and evaluation methods.  It is exciting to work together in this way linking our thinking and practice on experiential design, delivery, reflection, and reviewing in different ways/combinations.  It is a very busy week for both of us. The mixture of delegates is also interesting, with corporate clients, and adventure and outdoor facilitators. The last time I was out in Malaysia was several years ago when I was delivering a course for Malaysia Telecom at their training college.

I found a good book to read during the long flight. I bought it at the last minute at an airport shop whilst still in the UK – it is called Thinking, Fast and Slow by the Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman. It is a fascinating read, and the book includes a lot of interesting material about errors in human judgement, and the functions of the slow and fast thinking routes humans utilise either consciously or subconsciously. They are referred to as system 1 and system 2. One of the most fascinating bits I have read so far is about cognitive illusions: ‘confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion’ suggests Kahneman. He offers many illustrations but the one here that was particularly simple to grasp was how someone in the audience of a lecture he did remarked to him how he had listened to a really long, beautiful musical symphony and then at the end there was a scratch on the recording that apparently ruined the whole experience……!!! The experience was not ruined, of course, only the memory of it. Much of the actual experience of listening to the music had not been ruined at all.I will post some news of these events at intervals………


News – books, chapters, an opportunity, and a free seminar!!!

Prof Colin BeardThe Experiential Educators Europe Conference in Lesvos, Greece was a great success. I met many interesting people and we had lovely weather. One morning we saw about five dolphins playing near the shore whilst we had breakfast on the balcony. The EEE sessions were all decided by particpants on arrival, in a very democratic and organised way. The International evening was also a great success with everyone taking some food from their own country. The evening ended with traditional Greek dancing. Greece-Experiential-FoodI took a Bakewell Pudding from the shop in Bakewell, in the National Park. The swimming pool was empty unfortunately so we found alternative uses (see photo),  a great place to do introductory activities! I also experienced some great experiential sessions during the conference and I hope that one or two of the presenters might help me by doing a short section for the forthcoming third edition of the experiential learning book. Next year the event is in Hungary at the end of April. I am hoping to go to it and possibly camp and experience minimalist living!Greece-Experiential-Educators

The Managing Spatial Ecologies book is available on Amazon UK  as well as USA now. The beginning of my contribution chapter is as follows, just to offer a taste of my thinking: Many spaces counter-intuitively interfere with learning and working, yet this state of affairs remains largely misunderstood by senior executives.  I argue that rapid change to working and learning spaces forms a complex ecology, a new spatial dynamic that can liberate, or limit, human and organizational capacity.  Driven largely by what we know about learning and human development, working and learning are increasingly regarded as converging phenomena in the knowledge economy: both require a similar range of human functioning, particularly, using a spatial metaphor, ‘higher’ level thinking through complex information manipulation.  These human functions, previously seen as largely cognitive, can be further developed by a greater comprehension of the role of movement, in an ecological context.  Synergies exist with human processing tools as movement emerges as key to new gesture based technologies that align GPS-like human capacities to processes important to learning, creativity and memory retention.  I suggest that the human being would better comprehend problematic knowledge, so typical in today’s complex world, by organizations getting FM to identify and create, though not necessarily own, more spaces for corporeal applications, as an extra gear to individual and organizational learning I propose a new evolution, an ecological alignment of the structural, functional, personal and social milieu of workplaces.  Through sensitive design work that acknowledges human fears and the need to belong, new spatial ecologies can liberate both individuals and organizations…………..

A chapter on spaces that change individuals and organisations will be published soon in a new International Human Resource Management book edited by John Wilson. This chapter was written with my colleague Professor Price. It is also currently shown  on Amazon books. The chapter Objectives are as follows: By end of this chapter, through theory and practice, any reader will have: Explored how space, in relation to new defining parameters of learning, has been largely neglected by HR; Grasped the concept of convergent evolution in relation to ‘learning’ and ‘working’; Gained a snapshot overview of the evolving theories of learning; Considered the interrelatedness of learning theories and learning environments; Been presented with a simple model of learning that explores learning environments in relation to other important learning dynamics; Explored how spatial dynamics affects language and conversations………………………..

Meanwhile the Training the Trainer Course in KL, Malaysia is recruiting well.

There is a new opportnuity as I am also in Singapore in mid August and hoping that as the flights are paid for a keynote speech then a training programme might be organised with a partner – interested in organising one? Do contact me.

Finally I am running a seminar at Sheffield Hallam University Business School on 25th June for FE and HE lecturers. The day experience will cover four innovative pedagogies. It is for practitioners and the experiences will be very practically focussed. Contact me for details. c.m.beard@shu.ac.uk. 15 places only. It is also FREE!!!!!!!



Managing Organisational Ecologies

Watch this space for more details of a new book to be published soon by Routledge New York called Managing Organisational Ecologies (Edited by Keith Alexander and Ilfryn Price). I have been writing for some time now with a friend an eminent Professor of Facilities Management Ilfryn Price, and we have really enjoyed the creative space that links our respective fields of study. Our new thinking has largely taken place in conversational form in a cafe round the corner from Sheffield Business School, not in the academic institution where we work. In fact my view is that ironically universities have little space these days for deep thinking and writing by academics, despite social knowledge construction space increasing in the layout of Universities and their learning centres. The same is true for corporate organisations. The concept of ‘away days’ helps to explain why outside places help…if we think of ‘away’ we might ask away from what? It is often the mental, and cultural/general organisational clutter that exisits in workplaces, and at our workstations, that blocks such creative processes.

Facilities Management you might think, like I did, hasn’t really got much interest for people like me, concerned with learning and personal development! However my colleague Professor Ilfryn Price was originally trained as a geologist,  and I was trained as a zoologist and so we both have a deep understanding of Darwinian thinking, and the evoloution of species. This has created a common language. We have been examining how learning and working are convergent evolutionary trajectories in the knowledge economy. In a recent and separate paper for a leading management journal (we are awaiting reviewers comments on) I examined a ‘quick and dirty’ sketch of the evolution of learning theories, whilst Ilfyn Price examined the history of the office, and some fascinating insight resulted ……In this new book, out soon, all the contributors speak this language of a (new) spatial ecology.  In the mobile dynamics of the world today how does space affect learning and working….? Contributors explore these complex issues and reveal new insights. They include for example facilities specialists from academia, designers, architects, and corporate real estate specialists who work in, and have redesigned some of the most efficient buildings in Europe. Indeed many global companies have been experiementing extensively in recent times with space redesign to explore efficiency and efficacy gains……. Nearly 20 years ago Tom Peters, in Liberation Management, wrote:

In fact, space management may well be the most ignored — and most powerful —tool for inducing culture change, speeding up innovation projects, and enhancing the learning process in far-flung organizations’.

……watch this space for more on these exciting topics!

Lifewide – an interesting learning concept?

So what do we mean by LIFEWIDE learning? Emeritus Professor Norman Jackson invited me to contribute to a new book he has edited (and significantlly contributed to). Lifewide learning goes largely unrecognised. The rear of the book comments that the book focuses on many aspects of this concept and that it calls for further and higher and other educational institutions to recognise and value this learning. Lifewide concerns the fact that much learning takes place through many experiences people encounter or create in many different spaces and places simultaneously, both on and off campus. In higher education for example students often spend three four or more years as part of their lifelong journey of quite intense learning, in many cases this can be a transformational experience. With Norman Jackson I have written a chapter on the creation of a holistic model for learning and personal development. There are also chapters by Emeritus Professor Ron Barnett about lifewide education as a transformative concept for higher education, and a chapter by Emeritus Professor Michael Eraut and others about learning through work. There is a forward and other chapters by a significant contributor and mentor to Norman Jackson in the book writing project, Professor John Cowan, an extraordinary teacher whose experience spans over 45 years. We have all heard a great deal about lifelong, but not so much about lifewide.