Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Phenomenal Learning

Hashtags: #BeSmartOnAir #education #esl #efl #tesol

At the end of the month, Be Smart On Air #17 will discuss Phenomenal Learning. Never having heard of the term, I decided to look it up. I gather that phenomenal in this sense means of the nature of a phenomenon; cognizable by the senses ( I particularly like looking at learning as cognizable by the senses, and am curious how Niilo Alhovaara and others decide to approach this topic. What I found online about phenomenal learning sparked a few questions. For the purposes of this post, I’m confining the notion of phenomenal learning within the context of formal learning (learning that occurs in schools).

At the time of this writing, the domain,, was currently unavailable. The only specific reference to phenomenal learning that I found was Davidove (2008), who contrasted it to traditional learning:
  • Centrally developed courses (traditional) vs. developed by workers (phenomenal learning)
  • Modules lasting hours vs nuggets lasting minutes
  • Delivered by an instructor vs. delivered by anything
  • Often just in case vs. just in time
  • Often competence driven vs. more performance driven
  • Paced by the agenda vs. social and participatory
Other key ideas associated with phenomenal learning include seating arrangements, few opportunities to collaborate, among others. Three key principles associated with phenomenal learning, according to Davidove, are the following: everyone instructs, learning is memorable and unique, and the notions of learning and working merge. These three principles lead to excellence “in every aspect of the learning experience”.

Although Davidove seems to be referring more to organizational (or professional) learning, I have a particular interest in this topic as it relates to formal education (in schools). Some key concepts to unpack during this discussion about phenomenal learning might include a) teacher/student roles (“removing the ‘middle man’”), b) freedom of choice on the part of the student (differentiated instruction), c) assessment, d) content delivery (or interactivity), e) student collaboration, f) course goals vs. individual goals, etc.

What other aspects of phenomenal learning should one consider in order to make it "cognizable by the senses" for each student? And is phenomenal learning related to phenomenal field theory (and the phenomenal self)?