Learning sets or teams are advocated far and wide as mechanisms for mutual support and learning. While the theory is good, examples are not always easy to locate especially when a programme of study requirement is not serving as the glue within a group.

Over the last four months a group of five colleagues have formed a learning set to support their individual development (four of these are lecturers studying for an MA in Teaching and Learning, while I was able to progress some aspects of my EdD). As one of the members of this group I have found some very tangible benefits

  • Reflective space made within a busy week
  • Playful advancement of ideas
  • Insight in to new theory and practice
  • Satisfaction in watching the spin-off benefits of projects evolve and come to reality
  • Understanding of different ways of knowing (I have had to make a leap to engage with my hard science colleague)
  • Triggering more out-of-group discussions about pedagogy and research

Reflecting on this activity it is clear to see how some distinct roles have formed in the group – perhaps unintentionally. These include: facilitator, organiser and trailblazer. Everyone has brought something different to the dynamic.  An important enabler of the group is having a motivated organiser who coordinates diaries to find workable slots for us to meet (a thankless but essential task). While in busy moments the group is easily bumped out of the diary to make way for more tangibly productive time I am clear that mutual commitment has grown over the weeks and this has formed a sense of priority in our meetings.  The group also benefitted from informality, meeting in the common room over a coffee has enabled us to find a happy medium between formal purpose and light-heartedness. Going forward I anticipate that we may form in to a group to support output creation beyond the life of the study – the post study purpose is under negotiation.

Thanks to Dr. Heidi Cunningham for the graphic.