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Learning for a Complex World 


This wiki was established in 2007 by the Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) at the University of Surrey, England. It represented a starting point in their examination of the wicked challenge of how universities prepare learners for a complex, uncertain and disruptive world, and how learners prepare themselves. The wiki is no longer maintained but the results and consequences of the work are provided in the book - Learning for a Complex World: A Lifewide Concept of Learning, Education and Personal Development published by Authorhouse. Important links are given below.


Important Links 

SCEPTrE Portal and wikis 

Learning for a Complex World 

learning to be professional


Over 8000 visitors    

AuthorHouse Bookstore


Enabling a more complete education conference April 2010 

Learning to be professional through a life-wide curriculum conference wiki   February 2009

Immersive experience wiki

Life-wide Curriculum wki



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Comments (23)

Anonymous said

at 2:41 pm on Jun 19, 2007

I'm really hoping that people feel that they can add their comments anywhere on this site, as well as change it when they feel it needs improving.

Anonymous said

at 1:04 pm on Jun 22, 2007

I'm innerested (sic)in what kinds of things lead or move us into asking a question, solving a problem, taking action and so on, and how we might gauge and learn from the effectiveness of our choice. This morning an important parcel that I was expecting arrived when I was out, so when I returned I got on my bike and scoured the local streets for the postman. I found him - 'Hi Sam' I shouted 'Hi Dave' he responded 'How can I help you?'(a payoff from exchanging names when he started the round several years ago!). He didn't have the parcel - it had come by van, but he did have the mobile number of the van driver, phoned him and ascertained the parcel's location. Within 10 minutes I had got the parcel and guess what? It was another not-very-urgent one!
If I learned anything from this it is that I knew what I wanted, had a challenging idea and despite the remote chance of its working, pursued it, perhaps just for the hell of it. Though I didn't get the result I wanted the reward for me was in the way the process worked. I should also add that I've got a new bike without which I might not have bothered. (A few metaphors floating around here?)

Anonymous said

at 9:33 pm on Jun 24, 2007

I'm looking forward to the conference and like the idea of this wiki - I'd be interested to see how it turns out.
I've added a page where i'll hopefully be able to put together some of my impressions from the conference (not sure how to link to it from here though), but hopefully i'll also be able to add somethng useful to the front page as the coming days unfold.Look forward to meeting you all...

Anonymous said

at 4:58 pm on Jun 26, 2007

Fantastic conference so far! I feel like I have come out of it knowing so much more! I feel enthused, motivated and ready for a new challenge in this area! Just come out of Fred Buining's masterclass and feel like I have just acquired skills I can really use! In all the sessions I attended I felt like I came away with something great!

Anonymous said

at 3:30 pm on Jun 27, 2007

I came as a novice in the area of enquiry based learning; I'm still a novice, but now a novice with a purpose - to help the staff at my University to develop their understanding of the learning process through the use of appreciative enquiry. Thanks to the participants and presenters who have contributed to my development, and to the new friends I have made..

Anonymous said

at 12:30 am on Jun 29, 2007

The wiki masterclass has had a result - I have contributed to the conference wiki! Thank you Mark and Maja for giving me the knowledge and confidence to do this.

Anonymous said

at 1:53 am on Jul 2, 2007

A lot of the recent and emerging technologies are impacting on identity, communication and inquiry (this wiki being a good example). I will have a search in the wiki pages about these areas but am interested in any discussions relating to this.

I'd also ask how do we plan to keep these great conversations going? i.e. sustaining our inquiry into inquiry and learning in a complex world.

Anonymous said

at 8:34 am on Jul 2, 2007

There's a conference on games and simultaions coming up 16-18 July in Manchester. Go to http://www.simulations.co.uk/sagset/sagset4.htm if you're interested.

Anonymous said

at 11:41 am on Jul 2, 2007

Responding to Nick.. One of the most satisfying things for sceptre was seeing that new relationships emerging from the shared experience are leading to some new things in your institutions. People who organise conferences pray that it will happen but don't normally see it and we welcome any feedback of things new things happening. We all know how difficult it is to sustain things. It requires real commitment and people have to give their time and energy to keep things going. SCEPTrE and the other CETLs in the LtE Alliance welcome ideas on how we can keep things going in a social/professional sense perhaps through collaborative inter-institutional projects.

Richard Seel has very interesting things to say about emergence and I hope he joins the conversation.

Anonymous said

at 12:29 pm on Jul 2, 2007

Thanks David for the note about the conference.

I've got my thinking cap on re sustaining this but having some cross-institutional collaborative projects would be key. You mention some of these collaborative relationships are forming/emerging as a result of the SCEPTrE event, can we create a page for people to add these and to make calls for others with shared interest in an area to join? Can we identify possible multiple funding sources for these projects CETL's, EU funding sources, JISC, others?

I would suggest having meetings once a month or perhaps every two weeks at times ... but monthly as a min. Online for most, with a technology mix that will be depend upon purposes and hoped for outcomes for each meeting. One time might be a simple discussion using telephone/Skype conference. Others might invovle a richer mix of activities; min-presentations, demos, oplling etc and would require tools like Adobe Connect/Elluminate/Yugma. For key milestones, face-to-face meetings (once a year?) for all might work well perhaps - so looking at Jun 08.

This is all a quick off the top of my head based on learning and teaching communities I have been and am involved with in North America.

Do these feel like seeds we could all flesh out together and get something going while energy and momentum is still with everyone from the f2f event?

Anonymous said

at 2:38 pm on Jul 2, 2007

Despite being a committed technophile I retain a deep (and prejudiced) scepticism about the ability of virtual connectivity to enable emergence. Perhaps it's the restricted bandwidth (the loss of intonation, body language, pheromones, etc.); perhaps it's the loss of information flow in that even synchronous communications seem slow; perhaps I'm just getting old and still finding it rather difficult to control my Second Life avatar!
My interest in collaborative inquiry leads me to believe that f2f is important but it may not be vital. I also believe that having an inquiry topic which is energising for everyone and which generates engagement is key. So any collaborative projects need to be based around a topic which is compelling for everyone participating.
This may be harder for a distributed project to achieve because the shared interest is more likely to be cerebral than visceral - yet I suspect that passion is important in sustaining energy and commitment.
This is a bit negative - sorry! I certainly don't want to pour cold water on any attempts to keep things going and to promote emergence. Nick's suggestions are creatively provocative, especially having a mix of interaction styles and media. This may help to increase the diversity (certainly to the extent that the medium is the message) and keep the momentum and energy going.

Anonymous said

at 8:05 pm on Jul 2, 2007

So why not export your thoughts on this matter to a fresh new wiki page, Nick? Burying your enthusiasm within the comments pages is unlikely to grab universal attention in quite the same way as a brash new page, suitably advertised on the wiki's front page, may do.

And whilst I share some of Richard's scepticism about virtual media, I don't think it is impossible for us to learn us a different kind of tempo to sustain our online interactions.

Nor (without getting too caught up in mind-body dualisms) do I agree that a shared cerebral interest necessarily lacks (or has more limited) passion - and it certainly need not lack energy ...

Anonymous said

at 11:32 pm on Jul 2, 2007

Hi everyone - just a thought that came to me about Richard's comments on the value of F2F rather than virtual engagement. I'd describe myself as a technophile too, and would probably agree with him - but I did think back to an interview presentation I gave at Imperial College a few years back.

I likened education to a football match - with lots of ways to experience it:
- you can watch it live with the atmosphere and the roar of the crowd
- people build communities in their homes around the TV (and possibly a few beers too)
- the highlights show a few clips, but not just any old clips, they've been carefully edited to tell the story
- the newspapers the next day have some commentary on the game, but lots of analysis, set in the context of other results etc.

What I came to was that the value was in the mix - people will mix and match different media to suit their situation. And also the value of the media in telling the appropriate story, depending on the medium and the context. I claimed education was the same.

It was an imaginative tale, designed to engage my interview panel and promote discussion. It was utterly unsuccesful, divebombed completely, and here I am at Surrey. But never mind 8-)

So whilst I share some agreement with you Richard, I do think that F2F is great, but only if you're good at and enjoy F2F interactions. Sometimes it's nice to have the mix. Steve

Anonymous said

at 9:15 am on Jul 3, 2007

Good morning campers! Its great coming in here and seeing another bit of conversation unfold. Almost like reading a newspaper.

I agree with the view that we need all forms of communication in a complex world and some we will be better at than others. There is no substitute for face to face conversation and the relationships it creates but it most definitely is not the only way and sometimes it isn't the best way to communicate. Take now as an example.

One of the biggest challenges of the complex world for me is coping with the plethora of new technologies and their information flows. I don't think I will ever master these... I think you have to be 'born' into them or at least be amongst peers where using them is an essential part of being. But I can at least appreciate them and learn from my children, students and colleagues the possibilities for their use. I'm enjoying trying new stuff out with people who are in the same position as me.

Loved your metaphor Steve and the idea of multiple ways of experiencing the same thing is a good complex world metaphor which I'd like to add to the conceptual map. And sorry to hear your interview 'divebombed' Clearly the interview panel couldn't recognise talent when it was staring them in the face!

Anonymous said

at 9:33 am on Jul 3, 2007

Just sorted out how to get in here and comment....been distracted by Pebblepad work I'm doing for my SCEPTrE Fellowship. I also liked Steve's football metaphor, perhaps this need developing further. Is this where a new page is born! (I'm a wiki novice).

Anonymous said

at 9:37 am on Jul 3, 2007

Hi Lindi why don't you have a go at creating a page?

Anonymous said

at 9:57 am on Jul 3, 2007

With a little bit of help....I've done it ;-) 'Watching Football as metaphor for complex world.'

Anonymous said

at 10:16 am on Jul 3, 2007

I agree with Willy - a quick comment here but a new page is better to put your point across. I'm adding one on how the layout of wiki pages and indeed the number of words in any comments is an important consideration for clarity.

Anonymous said

at 11:10 am on Jul 3, 2007

Thanks Lindy - the football page is great! I would like to talk to you about PebblePad sometime! We are using it here, with mixed results.

Anonymous said

at 1:25 pm on Jul 3, 2007

Couldn't get to the conference but pleased to have the opportunity to learn and contribute. A brief comment on complexities and replying to Norman's comments on questionning complexity v simplicity; if you've not had a chance already please see John Maeda's book "The Laws of Simplicity; Design, Technology, Business,life " - it's well worth a look. Provides an opportunity to reflect on everyday life as well as educational issues.
Also interested to see comments on Pebblepad in view of colleagues here that are developing new material for our students - will pass-on the links.
Tim - CETL, Transport and Product Design, Coventry School of Art & Design.

Anonymous said

at 2:46 pm on Jul 5, 2007

Steves metaphor is a good complex world image.. its about the possibility of experiencing the same thing in many different ways - through direct participation, close or distant observer in different social contexts, or receiving information through different media that require different sorts of sensual and cognitive engagement from which different personal experiences and understanding are constructed.. its a very very rich metaphor that can be extended to work and life more generally.

Anonymous said

at 5:07 am on Aug 23, 2007

Sorry to have not been back here for a bit. Thought your all might be interested in this Calgary site on Complexity and Education with a free online journal called Complicity.



Anonymous said

at 11:07 am on Aug 24, 2007

Many thanks for this useful link Nick.. Comments seem to have dried up but judging by the steadily increasing number of hits we are getting people are finding the site and sometimes making contributions.

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