Tag Archives: heutagogy

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The evolution of teaching and learning

Whether implicit or explicit, we all have a theory of teaching and learning. This gets expressed and enacted in how we engage with our students, the tools we use (or don’t use), and even where we stand in the classroom (F2F or virtually). Traditional theoretical frameworks can be broadly grouped into four domains: instructivism, critical theory, constructivist approaches and andragogy (or adult learning). But the rise of many-to-many, decentred and non-linear networking and communication channels have given rise to corresponding advances in frameworks for teaching and learning in the global classroom.

The 1.0 Classroom

education 1_0

Instructivism as a standard approach to teaching emerged from positivist and post-positivist paradigms. Characterized by the traditional “chalk and talk” style, instructivist pedagogy is premised on a transmission model of learning. Learning outcomes and curricula are pre-determined and delivered in a primarily didactic fashion. The same information is provided to all learners regardless of their pre-existing knowledge and skills.



Teaching 2.0

education 2_0Constructivism marked a shift from teacher-centred to student-centred learning, deemphasizing informing (memorizing facts) in favour of transforming: locating, critiquing and synthesizing knowledge in a culture of collaboration and sharing. Curriculum development is based on student query, which acknowledges that students learn more by asking questions than by answering them. In this model, students critically engage with course material by posing questions that further group reflection and debate. Adult learning (andragogy) and critical approaches extend and complement contructivist learning models.


Education 3.0

Over the last decade, two models have emerged to challege our existing paradigms: heutagogy (Blaschke, 2012, Hase and Kenyon, 2000) and paragogy (Corneli and Danoff, 2011). These extend constructivist, critical and adult learning theories offering models of learning that are (1) self-determined, (2) peer-led,
education 3_0 (3) decentred and (4) non-linear. These characteristics map onto social media applications and the democratization of knowledge and information. Heutagogical and paragogical approaches also extend traditional andragogical and adult learning frameworks by emphasizing meta learning, or learning how to learn.


Andragogy, Heutagogy and Social Media

Andragogy (Self-directed) Heutagogy (Self-determined) Parallels with Social Media
Competency development Capability development Knowledge curators
Linear design of curricula Non-linearity in curricula Hyper-learners
Instructor/learner directed Learner directed Autonomous digital communities
Content focus (what is learned) Process focus (meta learning, learning how to learn) Online collaboration, sharing, crowd-sourcing


This shift is radical in challenging the implicit notion that we (educators) know best what students need to learn. As Morris (2013) puts it, the issue of how to modify or reinvent teaching in higher education “can create anxiety, uncertainty, and even resentment toward a shift in the culture of learning that we’ve had little control over, that’s come at us from outside our own domain; for others, this new landscape appears inviting, exciting, and full of possibility”.

Radically self-determined and networked learning approaches (like heutagogy and paragogy) affirm individuals as the experts in their lives and learning trajectories. Nothing less than what has always been.



Note: Images depicting Education 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 were adapted from a blog post by Jackie Gerstein: Experiences in Self-Determined Learning: Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0

This post was adapted from a previous article.












Toy Circus











Stuff it took me 20 years to learn – and I’m still trying to figure out


1. Learning is volitional. It cannot be mandated. We can teach, but each person decides for him- or herself what will be absorbed and integrated.


2. What’s taught in the classroom is only the starting point for knowledge-acquisition and skill mastery. Deep learning happens when class is over – the space for real world application and practice.


3. Motivation to learn influences how much work a person is willing to put into self-directed learning and mastery.


4. People are most motivated to learn things that are of direct interest and relevance.


5. Motivation is a state, not a trait. Motivation is largely a product of how we (instructors) engage students.


6. We can amplify students’ engagement by giving them an authentic and substantive voice in co-creating curricula.


7. Paragogy and heutagogy, emerging theories of teaching and learning, point to decentred learning, self-determination, and peer-to-peer learning as core to 21st Century education.


What might paragogical teaching look like in a post-secondary classroom? In this Acclaim interview with Maegan Stephens (Public Speaking as an “Interactive Democracy”), Professor Stephens describes how:

I give them a ballot of issues to vote on, including the content of the speeches they will give, how they will be graded, and class policies on cell phone use and on attendance. I also ask them if they would prefer to spend class time doing activities, watching speeches, hearing me lecture, or a combination.

I try to ask as more as more of a moderator and facilitator than as a lecturer. This kind of interaction, advances the aspects of debate and speaking oriented pedagogy on day one. It is not so much about flipping the classroom as it is about reversing the authority and changing the professor student dynamic, and encouraging my students to take more responsibility for their classroom.



Love it. Can’t wait to try it.






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Advances in education theory for a digital world


This article is abbreviated from:

Herie, M. (2013). Andragogy 2.0? Teaching and Learning in the Global Classroom: Heutagogy and Paragogy. Global Citizen Digest, 2(2): 8-14.

Whether implicit or explicit, everyone has a theory of teaching and learning. This gets expressed and enacted by how we engage with others, whether as instructor or student. Traditional theoretical frameworks can be broadly grouped into four domains: instructivism, critical theory, constructivist approaches and andragogy (or adult learning). However Web 2.0, characterized by many-to-many, decentred and non-linear networking and communication, has given rise to corresponding advances in conceptualizing teaching and learning in the global classroom. Emerging frameworks – heutagogy (learning as self-determined and non-linear) and paragogy (peer-to-peer and decentred learning) – have important implications for practice in the 21st Century.

Education theory has seen a trajectory from teacher-centred (instructivism) to learner-centred approaches (constructivism and andragogy), incorporating broader contextual issues and dynamics of power, privilege and community (critical pedagogy). However, these theories were all developed prior to the rise and ubiquity of Web 2.0 and social media. Integrating emerging models can extend constructivist, critical and andragogical frameworks towards a kind of “andragogy 2.0”.

Heutagogy and paragogy represent potentially useful extensions of constructivist, critical and adult learning theories; that is, androgogy 2.0. Both heutagogy and paragogy offer models of learning that are (1) self-determined, (2) peer-led, (3) decentred and (4) non-linear. These characteristics map onto social media applications and the democratization of knowledge and information. Heutagogical and paragogical approaches also extend traditional andragogical and adult learning frameworks through their emphasis on meta learning, or learning how to learn.

Andragogy, as self-directed learning focused on competency development, is reconceptualized in heutagogy as self-determined learning focused on developing capabilities. As our rapidly-changing occupational terrains continuously advance and expand workforce competency needs, today’s workforce requires lifelong learners who are both competent and capable. No post-secondary program of study can ever really prepare students with all of the knowledge and skills needed (competencies); rather, it is one’s capability in determining what knowledge and skills need continuous development, and how to access/master them (capabilities). The skills associated with locating and interrogating information to inform decision-making, what we might call “knowledge curators”, are paramount in a knowledge economy.

This in turn implies access to knowledge and skills in a non-linear fashion by today’s “hyperlearners” (derived from the hypertextuality of the web, where information is hyperlinked with no beginning-, middle- or end-point). The process of knowledge construction is itself non-linear, and non-linear curricula would mirror real-world knowledge retrieval and construction. Similarly, shifting from instructors and learners collaboratively co-creating curricula, towards a learner-directed approach, may better prepare learners with the skills needed for lifelong learning via personal learning networks (mapping onto autonomous digital communities).

Finally, heutagogy and paragogy address process over content – the “how” as opposed to the “what” – or meta-learning (learning how to learn). Through networked community and crowd-sourcing, “the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts”. This is illustrated by the elegant solutions to complex problems yielded via crowd-sourced distributed networks. For example, in 2011 crowd-sourcing was used to successfully solve a protein structure (retroviral protease of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus, the cause of an AIDS-like disease in monkeys) that had puzzled scientists for over a decade (Akst, 2011). The crowd-sourced solution was published in the peer-reviewed, academic journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology (Khatib et al. 2011).

An emphasis on developing capabilities in a learner-directed, non-linear and process-oriented way makes it particularly well suited to today’s digital generation, where connectivity, creativity and reflexivity are foundational to global citizenship and collaboration.


These models represent a departure from mainstream structures of higher learning. Just as social media and Web 2.0 turned a “one-to-many”, broadcast model of Web 1.0 on its head, the notion of peer-to-peer, self-determined, decentred learning within the context of a learning community characterized by principles of social justice, equity and inclusion may sound utopian: “It is […] no easy task to adopt a decentralised model, since it will require massive procedural, economic and professional change in higher education” (Weller, 2009, in Corneli and Danoff, 2011). Yet in many ways, heutagogy and paragogy simply extend constructivist and critical frameworks, reimagined for a digital generation and a global community.

A provocative 2003 article by Carol Twigg references higher education as largely a “handicraft industry”, with most courses developed by individual faculty for unique cohorts of students:

Currently in higher education, both on campus and online, we individualize faculty practice (that is, we allow individual faculty members great latitude in course development and delivery) and standardize the student learning experience (that is, we treat all students in a course as if their learning needs, interests, and abilities were the same). Instead, we need to do just the opposite (Twigg, 2003, p.38).

Globalization has led to global classrooms, where difference among learners is the rule rather than the exception, spanning culture, language, gender, sexual orientation, faith, ability, social location, migration history and standpoint. It is unsurprising that educational institutions struggle with students’ accommodation needs and demands: it is hard to reconcile standardized curricula with learner heterogeneity along multiple intersecting dimensions.

An analogous example can be seen in advances in chronic disease management. Like education, medicine has traditionally delivered care via an expert model, where treatment is provided based on clinical diagnoses and evidence-informed interventions. In acute settings this works well, however the highest costs and challenges to health care today relate to chronic disease prevention and management. Unlike acute medical problems, chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension are, by definition, ongoing and rely on patients’ own decisions and motivation regarding health behaviour change. New models of medicine are now focusing on patient self-management and enhancing motivation for change, whereby the system of care (both formal and informal) surrounds – and is largely directed by – each patient for him or herself (Frenk et al., 2010).

Similarly, while instructor-led curricula may be effective for brief episodic and “acute” educational needs, programs of study to prepare students for “chronic lifelong learning” demand student self-management and motivational enhancement. Just as chronic disease prevention supports patients in becoming their own health care leaders, our increasingly complex and digitally connected world places a demand on higher education to shift focus towards more effectively helping learners to become their own teachers within formal and informal networks of guidance and support. This does not negate our role as subject matter expert, but it does place the onus – quite rightly – on supporting students’ capacity for nuanced critical reflection, judgment and decision-making.

Radically self-determined and networked learning approaches (like heutagogy and paragogy) affirm individuals as experts in their lives and learning trajectories. As Stuart Brand famously said, “information wants to be free”. So does learning.

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View the June 3, 2013 presentation for the College and Degree Operating Group (CDOG) conference on the topic of “Andragogy 2.0? Introducing emerging frameworks for teaching and learning: Paragogy and Heutagogy” on Slideshare.

Related articles:

Androgy 2.0: Emerging Theories of Teaching and Learning




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The third type of digital divide and why mobile devices should remain on


Much has been written about the digital divide. And we are now seeing research and publications focused on the “second-level digital divide” as mobile devices become increasingly ubiquitous. Now we’re talking about the structural inequities among not just who has digital access, but rather, the kinds of access and digital access skills.


In addition, the pervasiveness of mobile computing means that North American post-secondary classrooms are increasingly a site for a third kind of digital divide: between instructors struggling to wrest students’ attention away from their mobile devices, and students as tied to said devices as day traders to the Nasdaq. Maybe it doesn’t have to be one or the other: mobile computing can add value to any classroom.



Here are seven ways to leverage mobile capacity from the very first class.


1. Ice Breaker: App Show and Tell

People love apps (estimates for 2013 range from somewhere between 54 – 86 billion downloads). Ask students to stand up, mingle around, and query someone they haven’t met “What’s your favourite app and why?” What are the most popular apps represented in your class? What does this say about commonalities and differences?

2. Course Playlist

Playlists are the contemporary equivalent of mixtapes. What song(s) symbolize the themes of this course? Put together a collaborative playlist. Play a song at the beginning and end of every class.

3. In-ClassTwitterchat

Individual reflective activities are regarded as productive and constructive. Why not take 10 minutes and move the conversation into the social-digital realm? #yourcoursename


4. Open-search-engine pre-test

Mobile devices are banished from final exams – rightly so. Yet the skill of locating credible information efficiently is essential in any profession. Invite students to preview a modified final exam at the beginning of the course using their mobile devices to access information (they can work in pairs if not everyone has an Internet-enabled search engine on their phone). Extra points for the instructor if the pre-test is designed more for critical understanding/analysis than fact-memorization. Optimally, students will directly experience why attending class is a value-add over just reading the text.


5. Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Collectively develop an innovative idea based on the course content, or identify a community project or cause, and work with them to secure funding. Try to fund development using crowd-sourced micro finance (such as Kickstarter).


6. Social Justice

Identify a cause and create an online petition. Or locate, critique, endorse petitions. Reflect on the challenge of consensus building, ethics, values, decision-making.


7. Collaborative Learning Assessment

Invite students to collaboratively co-create the final exam throughout the course using a mobile test-maker application.



All of the above strategies are aimed at addressing classroom engagement and leveraging the reality that students will bring and access their mobile devices, whether sanctioned or not. But most important, these strategies can address the skills gaps identified in the concept of second-level digital divide. And do so in the spirit of new and emerging teaching and learning frameworks:

Paragogy and heutagogy.

(Also on Slideshare)














Teaching as effortless action


Course evaluations can provide helpful feedback about what we’ve done well and where we can improve. The confusing part is when we see polarities in evaluation data (too much group discussion, not enough group discussion; too much time, not enough time; etc.). But the solution isn’t necessarily working harder at the front of the classroom.

The Eastern notion of “effortless action” implies action aligned with our authentic selves. The harder we try to exert influence and control, the further we get from the fundamental essence of what it is to teach and to learn.













The Tao of teaching is the unity between: 

Thinking and doing 

Speaking and listening

Working and playing 

Teaching and learning.


Consider: Each of these contains elements of the other. Thought is itself a form of action, and action embodies elements of thought. As we speak we are responding (to), and we listen to ourselves. As we listen our mind is speaking. Work and play are not distinct from one another. As we teach we learn, and we learn as we teach. 

Effortless action in a Western frame might be conceptualized as the psychology of flow.


Whatever name we give to something essentially un-nameable, for me the Tao of Teaching means finding that place inside and then reaching out and connecting with what is true and authentic in others. That’s when magic happens. 














Will it be on the exam?

In-class exams may well be one of the most stressful – and for some, traumatic – experiences in a student’s life. This truism came front and centre last week at a certificate program I was teaching, geared to seasoned interprofessional practitioners. The varying responses to our in-class, summative, multiple-choice exam tended to cluster around the less enthusiastic end of the spectrum.

Why are exams so aversive?

One obvious reason is that they can be high stakes, as in this (admittedly oversimplified) equation:

high grades = approval + scholarship $$$ + grad school admission

Another reason may have to do with lack of autonomy: we didn’t write the exam questions, and we generally can’t know – or in many cases – anticipate – them in advance. And people inherently strive towards personal autonomy.

But I think that radical pedagogical analyses get closest to the crux of the matter, in their critical interrogation of power dynamics in the classroom, the stance of the professor as “expert”, and framing of “curricular content” (for example, Laura Béres 2008 article).

Constructivism frames learning as socially constructed by learners, where learning is meaningful and relevant to real life. In-class exams are, by nature, removed from real life and focus on content domains that the instructor sees as key.

This can be an uneasy alliance in progressive classrooms, and one that I am still struggling to reconcile… Especially in a knowledge landscape where locating information should take precedence over memorizing information (see Julio Frenk’s influential report in the Lancet, “Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world”).

Closing thought:

Exams do stimulate affective arousal, which is associated with enhanced memory retention. I’m just not sure that those memories correlate well with the exam content!

Predicting the Future: Higher Education in 2112 (Part 2)

My workplace overlooks a big downtown university campus, and it’s always fun to see the frosh week excitement and back-to-school energy.

This made me think about: what will higher (university) education look like 100 years from now? Hard to imagine, especially because universities have sustained a pretty enduring business model and delivery system for – what – the last thousand years or so?

But I think we’re seeing the fault lines in higher education, some driven by students themselves and their expectations/learning preferences, some changes being driven by new technologies/social media, and perhaps the most significant changes are a result of globalization and rise of “educational megalopolies”.

So – here are some of my predictions:

This first one is kind of a no-brainer: Face-to-face learning will be the exception. Students will design and access knowledge and skills guided by both human and virtual tutors/faculty

Students will register and be affiliated with multiple academic institutions from the same family of university “brands” (as smaller schools become gobbled up by the big names)

Students will travel virtually or geographically throughout their academic careers and access a plethora of institutionally-branded choices in different metropolitan centres and online, with the entire academic record in a single transcript file location

The electronic transcript will look more like a virtual portfolio of students’ work and assessments, and will link to other accomplishments/activities

There will be no such thing as “full” courses (due to over-enrollment) because all courses will be webcast

The most successful university brands will offer programs in multiple languages: for example, English, Mandarin, Portuguese, Hindi, Russian (via automatic simultaneous translation of faculty/instructional materials)

Unique, personalized programs of study will be developed so as to fit specific jobs via proprietary algorithms (and these will be recalibrated as students’ career goals change)

Teaching performance will be graded on a variety of metrics – including student performance and feedback/reviews – and this will be integrated within mobile academic course calendars (inside-out universities).












Continuing Professional Education in 2112


Predicting the future is a risky and uncertain business, despite what psychics and fortune-tellers might proclaim. Still, I’ve been thinking about science fiction transformed into reality by the successful landing of NASA’s Curiosity Mars explorer vehicle. How many years before the first humans embark on the six-month journey to another planet? All this wondering has inspired me to consider what continuing education might look like a century from now.

So here goes – some predictions for continuing professional education:

The focus of continuing education requirements for professionals will shift away from accumulating a set number of accredited CPE course hours, and reflect an assessment of the richness and density of practitioners’ electronic networks and their contributions within and beyond these networks

The primacy of skills in researching and locating information will be replaced by skills in creating/designing an individualized architecture to harvest, sort, store and share essential knowledge and ideas

There will not be slideware

Knowledge Curator will be a popular job title

The CV will be replaced by a tag cloud or an infographic resume with active links to relevant media, and this will be a more accurate reflection of professional contributions and experience

Education will be evaluated based on net benefit to learners in practice, and this will be possible at low cost due to the proliferation of mlearning applications and integrated performance databases

Didactic lectures will still exist, but they will look more like (high production value) TV commercials and less like (low production value) infomercials. They will be a lot shorter too.

For fun – here is a tag cloud for this website updated October 2012:











Pushing the boundaries of education theory – A hurricane at our backs

How are teaching and learning theories evolving to take into account the opportunities and advances in social media and “Web 2.0”?

Andragogy, as a theory of adult learning, has been around since the 1980s, extending the notion of pedagogy to an adult learning context (Malcolm Knowles, discussed in a chapter I wrote on online learning theory).  I have been thinking about what a “2.0” conceptualizing of andragogy might look like, given the incursions of user-generated content into both live and online learning contexts. Two recent models – paragogy and heutagogy – have captured my attention as useful extensions of Knowles’ adult learning theory. These models may well constitute a kind of “Androgogy 2.0.”

Both paragogy and heutagogy present a model of learning that is (1) decentred, (2) non-linear, (3) peer-led and (4) self-determined. These characteristics map onto social media applications and the democratization of knowledge and information. Paragogical and heutagogical approaches also extend traditional adult learning frameworks through their emphasis on meta learning, or learning how to learn.

A new model for health care education is needed at this time for a number of reasons:

The explosion of evidence-based information in health care means that “just in time” learning may be more helpful and important than “just in case” learning.

Patient access to – and use of – internet-based health information means that providers need to understand how to access, assess, critique, and translate credible sources of information.

The new generation of learners are already “hyper-learners” (i.e. non-linear in their approach to accessing and processing information), and are accustomed to generating as well as consuming content.

Power dynamics in the classroom are already shifting towards learner-as-consumer, with all of the attendant opportunities and pitfalls that we are seeing. On one hand, learning is volitional, so it makes intuitive sense that learners should be autonomous and self-determining. Shifting the power dynamics in the classroom in favour of the learner can facilitate many-to-many communication and crowdsourcing. On the other hand, our educational structures and institutions are not set up to accommodate radically student-centred approaches, and as faculty we can find ourselves caught in the middle.

So what are the practical implications for clinical education? I have been experimenting with student-centred assignments and activities, as well as peer evaluation and use of social media, and the going is not always easy. The preconditions of psychological safety and willingness to risk are key, and I find that these strategies take considerably more of my time in coaching and reassuring. However based on students’ feedback, there is a depth and richness to the learning that goes beyond instructor-centric approaches.

In any case, when it comes to radically student-centred approaches to 21st Century health care education, “We’re not walking into a headwind, we have a hurricane at our backs.”


View a presentation on the topic of “Andragogy 2.0: Introducing emerging frameworks for teaching and learning: Paragogy and Heutagogy” on Slideshare


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