So Jeff, what exactly is a Bricoleur?

If you have joined my LinkedIn network over the past year, you would have been greeting with a message that begins with:   “Welcome to the Bricolage!”    Of the 3000 plus new LinkedIn connections since April 2016, more than a few have asked me, ‘What exactly is a Bricoleur?”

Traditionally, bricoleurs were artisans that were able to create great works from whatever materials and tools (some times manufactured for purpose) were at hand.  Today, my Bricoleur-ism produces a bricolage: that is a pieced together set of representations that are fitted to the specifications of a phenomenal or complex situation.

As I was making a deep dive into some personal research around, ‘How do we know when we learn?’ during the latter part of 2015 and into 2016, one of the texts I was working through with a fine tooth comb was the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research by Denzin & Lincoln (4th Ed.).  (LOL, Yes I bought a textbook for personal research – bit of Hermione Granger complex I guess?)

According to Denzin & Lincoln, there are five categories of Bricoleurs.  A masterful piece by Matt Rogers explains them quite well.

5-bricloage copy

Interpretive Bricoleur
This approach involves a shift in our understanding of data collection from something objective that is accomplished through through detached scrutiny of ‘what I know and how I know it’, to recognize how we actively construct our knowledge.  (rogers, P. 4)



Methodological Bricoleur
A methodological bricoleur is a researcher who combines multiple research tools to accomplish a meaning-making task.  The qualitative-researcher-as-bricoleur or maker of quilts uses the aesthetic and material tools of her craft, deploying whatever strategies, methods or empirical materials are at hand.  (Rogers, P.5)  This means bricoleurs have an aptness for creativity – they know how to artistically combine theories, techniques and methods.

Theoretical Bricoleur
“the theoretical bricoleur reads widely and is knowledgeable about many interpretive paradigms (eg., feminism, Marxism, cultural studies, constructivism, queer theory) that can be brought to any particular problem.”  (Rogers, p.6)

Political Bricoleur
Political bricoleurs are researchers who are aware of how knowledge and power are connected.  The political bricoleur is aware the science is power, for all research findings have political implications. “There is no value free science.”  (Rogers, p.6)   As their aim, political bricoleurs produce knowledge that benefits those who are disenfranchised by everyday taken-for-granted workings of neoliberal, capitalist, white, patriarchal, and hetrosexual social structures.  

Narrative Bricoleur
Because true objective reality can never be ‘captured’, research texts can only represent specific interpretations of a phenomenon.   Narrative bricoleurs appreciate how ideologies and discourses shape how knowledge is produced. Instead of taking these knowledges and texts for granted, they seek to understand their influences on research processes and texts.  (Rogers, P.6)

Those of us with diverse background and living experiences will naturally integrate various aspects of all five in our lives.  My Bricolage exists out of complexity of the lived-in world and the complications that arise from various relationships. It is grounded on an epistemology of complexity. I guess this is why I have spent most of my life trying to simplify the complex.  

Put simply, Bricoleurs are the types of researchers who will take on projects that most would think are too complex to tackle – and make-sense of it all.  Bricoleurs are the types of managers who would willingly walk into a company in crisis – and pull things together.  Bricoleurs are the types of professors/teachers who can explain insanely complex concepts in simple terms  – that anyone can grasp. They see life from many different perspectives, sometimes simultaneously!

Please feel free to share your experiences of pulling together treads from different disciplines to create your various academic/literary/business masterpieces.


Might ‘education’ be somewhat responsible for the tsunami of alternative facts & fake news?

I remember the first year of my undergrad degree.  It was the early eighties and it was drummed into me the importance of going to the source for any information. if you’re reading about something in one article or a textbook that you find either really frustrating or really interesting or want to know more – don’t quote the textbook, go to the source if you can. If you can’t find the source, find two or three other articles about the source article, and that might even not be the same opinion as yours, but at least you have tried to thoroughly find as much information as possible.

Now fast-forward to the last few years. Alternative facts all through the news. Fake news on social networks.   People don’t hear something they like they call it ‘fake news’. And if people want to switch the truth, they call it ‘alternative facts’.  FYI:  Trump is only the latest manifestation of this disturbing trend.

Back in the early eighties there was no internet so it was old fashioned libraries and taking time with books and reading and reading and reading and reading and reading and searching and searching and searching. Yes it was very old school – but you had to know your shit!

Let’s consider the last 20 years.  We now have Masters programs that don’t require any sort of real research.  MBA programs that can be done in a year that are based only on course work.  Research papers that only ask for a minimum of citations needed and doesn’t need to really back up the facts or go to the source – meaning, opinions without proof.  Citations coming from the likes of Wikis – which are maybe a great way to find Initial information about something – but isn’t actually a source or shouldn’t be used as a source.

Maybe educational institutions from public schools  to vocational colleges to academic institutions are not teaching critical thinking skills and giving some sort of research in foundational courses for all disciplines.  How else can we account for this trend in people accepting what they are told? We need to offer authentic tasks and activities that prepare students for understanding the need to fact-check their own opinions and therefore would be able to fact-check opinions of others.

Recently on LinkedIn, Mike Cadus provided a pointed response about the use the the ‘Learning Cone’ someone had posted. Mike referred to an amazing piece of research from many years ago and how it’s been altered and changed and modified by people over time.  Others are now using the revised slide to promote a style of thinking about teaching and learning that they support,  but it is actually contrary to what the original writer intended.  Nor do a lot of other popular theories have the research to back them up.  (Read about the Myth of Learning styles)

In today’s world, we must reevaluate what is, or who is, or who should be an influencer or an expert. I use the term influencer because that’s a social media term.  Just because somebody has a million followers on YouTube, it does not necessarily make them an ‘expert’ about the things they’re talking about.  Just because somebody tells a bunch of voters the things they want here, does not mean they know what really they’re talking about.  Just because somebody promotes the style of thinking that you as a teacher or instructor or higher education administrator agree with, have you checked to see if there is the research to back it up?

Food 4 Thought:  As teachers / instructors / trainers / professors, yes we have have to follow certain guidelines and standards, BUT we always have the last say of what is presented on in our classrooms. So What say you?  Are you inadvertently contributing to the fake news / alternative facts wave of confusion?

Using Informal Learning Instances to identify tacit knowledge (in hospitality workers)

Through a constructivist Grounded Theory approach, supervisors and front-line staff from two different resorts in the northern province of La Union (Philippines) were interviewed. The primary purpose was to help them look back over their hospitality career and identify key informal learning instances that assisted in their career growth. The data was synthesized through three tacit knowledge grids that gave rise to five major informal learning categories: Job skills, Career skills, Communication skills, Customer skills & Interpersonal skills.

Here is an intriguing 10-minute Youtube graphical representation of the Project.

Links to a one-page PDF overview (including citations) of the key findings from each grid:

KEY FINDINGS: Cognitive vs Technical: GRID 1:  KEY FINDINGS-tech-cog

KEY FINDINGS: Group vs Individual: GRID 2:  KEY FINDINGS – ind-group

KEY FINDINGS: Universal vs Context: GRID 3:  KEY FINDINGS – contxt – uni

Please add your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.



PS:  If your interested in subsequent developments to identify/codify tacit knowledge, please feel free to contact me at

You might think I am crazy … but I am keenly interested to work with an organization / institution in crisis.


Yes, you read that right.   Put simply, I am looking to help alleviate any organizational / educational nightmares your group may be experiencing. 

I am an Education Management Professional, Canadian, with an M.Ed from Australia who has just completed a social enterprise project in the Philippines.  I am now however, looking abroad for a seemingly insurmountable challenge.

Is your group:


  • Struggling with institutional chaos?
  • Concerned a major project is going off the rails?
  • Realizing the business model is unrealistic?
  • Dealing with a wayward school, dysfunctional staff or an unfocused curriculum?
  • Searching for someone to help you with a shift in organizational behaviour or corporate culture?
  • Facing diversity issues?
  • Needing someone who is solutions focused and is not afraid to ask the hard questions or take responsibility for the hard decisions?

Then please reach out:

A few achievements from the past 25 years:

  • As a Dean, started a private college in Vancouver from scratch. (Yes it is still running strong).
  • Facilitated the curriculum development for six TVET colleges in KSA.
  • Created an online content to assess 20,000+ Filipinos for BPO jobs.
  • Worked in 5 countries and conducted Biz Dev trips to an additional 10.
  • Created 10 welfare-to-work programs (BPO, Stagecraft, chef training, career prep, etc.) in a few different countries.
  • Taught (Biz, OB, Hospitality, ESL) to students from over 25 countries.
  • Created thousand plus hours of curriculum (old school, blended & online learning) and assessments for institutions in 10 countries.
  • Completely revamped a Canadian Young Offender program into a more holistic approach.
  • Conducted numerous corporate training staff development gigs throughout South Korea (Samsung, Hyundai, etc.).
  • Honoured to have worked with (and for) peoples from all faiths, cultures and gender orientations.
  • Equally at home in the boardroom, the classroom, the shop floor or the areas of town most people don’t like to go.


I am certainly no superman, and even after all these years still have a few rough edges – but am somewhat fearless and have a strong desire to take on a monumental task.

If seriously interested:


A Philosophy of Learning (& Education)

Learning is an action verb!  Education is a noun.

For decades I used to believe that education (not educators) and learning were so interconnected that I assumed they were two sides of the same coin. However, over the past 10 years I have come to realize (through Masters research, working in a number of different countries, and a deep dive into tacit knowledge research) that learning and education need to be as conceptually separate as the church & state discussion. (more)

I see learning as ubiquitous in human activity.  The only thing that changes is the context or setting.  This has huge implications about one’s epistemology and ontology. How we as individuals define (whether implicit or explicit) learning will influence assumptions we make about how others ‘make-sense’ of content in any situation.  (More)

From both a research and instructional design (ID) mindset, I have come to greatly appreciate a cluster approach. For researchers, it provides yet another option for deconstruction of learning phenomena. Within ID, it allows for a flexible design of how, when and where content/activity is delivered, as well as being able to build in time for individual purposes and processes.

If life-long-learning is nonlinear, then should not a certain amount of content delivery also be nonlinear? This greatly changes (and frees up) course/program design and provides the educator with much more flexibility. This also changes the role of the educator!  A realignment of our role from content expert to ‘content curator’ also puts content itself into a new perspective. (More)

Just as Schon made the distinction between reflection-on-practice and reflection-in-practice, I will make a distinction between ‘context-of-curriculum’ and ‘context-in- curriculum’. ‘Context of’ refers to the “why” we deliver content we do, and ‘context in’ deals more with the “what” – specifics of certain content. (More)

International Students

For those focusing on International students I ask, how familiar are you with your international students’ pain points? How well are your international students adapting to the tacit expectations of your learning and assessment processes? If you are actively targeting international students, you need to get a handle on your CIP (Culturally Inclusive Pedagogy)!  (More)

The ROI of CIP is pretty obvious:
-Greater retention rates
-Increased completion rates
-Increased student success rates
Any or all three can lead to increased financial growth, more word-of-mouth referrals, better marketing stories, and a potential for more institutional partnerships.


Any evaluation of a program, course, person (teacher, instructor, etc.) or student should be focused on the achievement of authentic measurable and observable outcomes of the student.  This holds true for any setting, whether academic, vocational training or corporate contracts.

Exp. Graph vs. Resume 2: Yet another approach

A second idea presented in Gary’s article (article herefirst blog here) is that of being able to connect the dots from a number of different experiences.  The article uses this image to show the relationship of many different milestone activities of a fictitious ‘Lucy’.  It posits how data collection can be used to provide a better understanding of someone’s experiences.


Great idea, but there are a few elements to this model that are lacking.

  1. It is only based on what someone does, not what they contributed or learned from the doing.
  2. It is only based on a current starting point moving forward. What about the years of previous experiences?
  3. It does not compile who mat have also been involved in these activities, nor the impact on the person these other players may have been.

I will address all of these points in further detail in 2017, but for now Gary’s article will get many people thinking in many new ways about how we gather information, connect information and present information about someone’s life experiences.

On this same theme, Michelle Weise presents a different approach in her HBR article, We need a better way to visualize people skills.   She proposes using a GitHub method used in the world of coders. The image below tracking the when and how much time someone is using the portal to write, edit or manipulate code for multiple work projects over a year.


I tried to imagine how this might look for a teacher over a ten-year period.   Imaging if it could capture teaching time, tutoring time, student achievement, course development time, committee time, extra curricular time (sports, drama etc.)?  Then run all this data through a 3D GitHub type of visualization – or even better – something like the first article that can also show all the connections to each other as well as other people?  WOW!

A few years ago I messed about with an infographic resume.  Here is a section where I tried to show courses developed, courses taught and teaching hours for six different segments.


Below is an image where I tried to visualize the extent of my overseas experience. I differentiated between business travel (top list) and where I had actually worked and lived (bottom). (You can tell it is a few years old as both Mexico and KSA are missing)


This last crude image is what I think both the articles are actually trying achieve.  A way to provide a person with a way to present some aspect (or all aspects) of their life in some form of image that can give a 3rd party a deeper understanding of who they are and what they can contribute to an organization.


You will see years along the ‘life long learning’ axis. This represents the number of years I have been involved with that ‘subject’. Colour represents level of expertise and also implies depth of understanding.  This is obviously a ‘quick glance’ graphic.  The more time you spend on it the more you will get to know me – even before we meet.

I am in no way proposing there is ONE BEST WAY to visualize a person’s experiences and expertise.  Nut I am in complete agreement with both Goldon & Weise when they are advocating for something so much better than the basic resume.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Moving to Bacolod: New city, New job! :)

June 25, 2016  I will move to Bacolod city in to take on the Head of Programs position with BagoSphere ( , an intriguing social enterprise that provides training for out-of-school young adults in Negros Occidental, one of the poorer provinces in the Philippines.  (See video)

I met Zhihan (one of the founders) a few years ago when I was working with Kalibrr, which at that time was trying to assist the call center industry with their recruiting challenges.  The industry was not ready, and Kalibrr made a pivot to a broader HR model (   Earlier this year I created a number of Education Myth blogs on LinkedIn. Zhihan and I reconnected, I did some consulting, and am now moving to Bacolod next week.

The BPO industry in the Philippines (which employees over 1 million people) is entering an extremely challenging period that will require an immense paradigm shift on how it recruits and trains people. BagoSphere has already made many inroads to address this situation, but over the next six months, we will prototype am entirely different approach to call center recruitment and training.

I look forward to sharing the results with you all.


Study Shock: How familiar are you with your international students’ pain points?

How well are your international students adapting to the tacit expectations of your learning and assessment processes? If you are actively targeting international students, you need to get a handle on your CIP (Culturally Inclusive Pedagogy)!

As part of my ongoing research into tacit knowledge, I recently came across a very interesting article concerning International Students. Maribel Blasco released a paper in 2015 entitled, Making the tacit explicit: rethinking culturally inclusive pedagogy in international student academic adaptation. She posits that, “ The data show how a major source of confusion for these students has to do with the tacit logics and expectations that shape how the formal steps of the learning cycle are understood and enacted locally, notably how learning and assessment moments are defined and related to one another.” (P. 86) This resonated with my times as the Dean of a business college in Vancouver, Canada that catered exclusively to international students, as well as my subsequent work around the globe.

“Theoretically, the article draws on tacit knowledge and sense-making theories to analyse student narratives of their encounter with the Danish system for inclusion from the learner to the educational institution.” (p. 86) Students coming from different countries, each with it’s own unique approach to learning and assessment, may never be able to fully grasp your institutions processes, rules, culture, etc. from a general student manual. Thus the concept of CIP (Culturally Inclusive Pedagogy). Which means an institution needs to consider a number of educational dichotomies:

  • rote learning vs critical thinking
  • extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation
  • power distance and high/low uncertainty avoidance
  • democratic vs authoritarian teaching

How many of these concepts have you considered when composing a student manual?

course cycle

Learning Cycle Cognitive Dissonance: Pain Point Examples
In 2008 I was one of the founders of Canadian College in Vancouver, BC. As there was a sister ESL school, the college made use of the same marketing channels and 95% of the students were international students.   Having worked with international students the previous 5 years in various capacities, I thought I had a good handle being able to set up the college to minimize the kind of cognitive dissonance mentioned in this article. Reality check! About 2/3 of the way through the first semester I had to completely rewrite the student manual along with a number of course and institutional documents for the following reasons:

Prepping for Class
Article: The research found that International Students from certain countries had trouble coming to grips with the fact that pre-reading was not monitored, nor was much of it on the exam.

My experience was similar. Students from Western Europe understood pre-reading was necessary for class discussion. Students from Eastern Europe were more familiar with scanning the textbook, then post-class reading important sections. North Asian students did little pre-reading, and my Saudi students had the computer read to them from the digital PDF books we were using.

During Class
The article refers to a number of students coming from countries where questioning a teacher was strongly discouraged and thus were uncomfortable with the informal almost peer-like relationship of the teachers in Denmark and even distrusted this arrangement feeling like it could work against them.

My experience with students from Eastern Europe and Russia was similar. It took many of them quite a while to not only questions some of the comments coming from teachers, but giving their opinion. Students from Latin American countries loved lively group work, but it took North Asian students a while to not only participate, but to see how these activities greatly added to what their learning moments.

The article mentions that certain international students had trouble completing self-directed assignments and projects that led to student stress and poor grades. There even seemed to be quite a bit of confusion about assignment weighting.

I had Russian students that were used to only oral exams, Asian students who had issues with plagiarism (even though it was thoroughly explained), and many others that had real troubles with the critical thinking behind short case studies of exam essay questions.

The article concludes with a series of possible questions to ask at specific times in the learning cycle in order to extricate the tacit assumptions being made. However at this point, I am curious how readers would answer the following question. If you were producing a piece of software, whom would you prefer to write the technical manual or online guide? An SME who wrote the program, OR someone familiar with the software specifications but who takes a ‘users’ perspective? The major problem with having someone too close to a project (software, course, game, app) write the user (student) manual is that they make many unconscious assumptions about prior knowledge of a step of process, which makes it difficult to see from a variety of perspectives. Quite often it is much easier for a pair of ‘fresh eyes’ to see what those too close to the process can’t.


So again I ask, how familiar are you with your international students’ pain points?



Based on the concepts of this article and my own experiences, I have developed a three-phase process to help institutions uncover their tacit assumptions with regards to learning and assessments. Other than having a pair of experienced ‘fresh eyes’, why else might you consider this form of audit?

The ROI is pretty obvious:
-Greater retention rates
-Increased completion rates
-Increased student success rates
Any or all three can lead to increased financial growth, more word-of-mouth referrals, better marketing stories, and a potential for more institutional partnerships.

Feel free to contact me to discuss what a TK audit at your institution would look like.

Education Myths…#12

Myth #12 (of 12): ADDIE is outdated

There has been some lively discussion recently in LinkedIn concerning the best curriculum design method for today’s fast paced world. So perhaps its time to rethink the role of content in teaching and learning. A fresh perspective on this problem includes thinking about our role as faculty and that of our students, as well as reconsidering the nature of curriculum design. (Monahan, 2015)

As an ISD (Instructional System Designer) I personally am still a big proponent of ADDIE (see my approach below) and have nothing negative to say against others using other systems given their circumstances. Use what works for you and gets the results you need.

However, I realize confusion abounds about ADDIE given many people only utilize the Instructional Designer components: ‘DDI’ or ADDIE light. Meaning, I do take issue with those who attack a proven concept based on misuse or misunderstanding.

There are three main ADDIE phases that, for a variety of well meaning reasons, many leave out: Assessment, Evaluation, and most importantly, the ‘prototyping’ aspect of Development phase. This blog will address all three.

Assessment of Needs
Conducting Needs Analysis: Is it Really Important?  by Arshavskiy (2016) is a very interesting post from a couple of weeks ago. Her premise is that “Good instructional designers must be able to recognize the ultimate reason the training is needed and seamlessly help the clients select the most appropriate training modality.” Obviously written from a corporate training perspective, but she is accurate in her statement. Moreover, she begins the article by hinting that the contracting body (company, institution, etc) already knows what the needs are. Here I fear is the great mistake many make: an over reliance of 3rd party needs assessment information.

There are a million reports that highlight what skills new grads need for the workplace. However, each new grad cohort is unique so why not just quickly double check to see what is really needed with a specific group. Furthermore, big consulting companies are making a killing generating global and country specific education needs reports that are wholeheartedly accepted by education officials. With all the sweeping comments about groups of learners, I wonder what happened to the ‘I’ in ILP? (see Myth #7)

Developing & Prototyping
I was recently involved with a HUGE project in a Middle East country that would make the ultimate case study for how NOT to bring Western education into foreign countries. At one point I asked the top people at the Skills Standards group why this project was never prototyped. “Jeff, there just wasn’t time.” was the answer. Sorry, but when a government dedicates USD $1 Billion for a new education initiative, you make time to prototype! If a company wants to try a unique training procedure across all divisions, you make time to prototype! If a university wants to deliver old content in a very radical way, you make time to prototype.

Tech & startup companies are all about fast prototyping. Build fast and break fast is the motto. Educators need to feel free to prototype lessons/courses/programs that can be overhauled as they are delivered, WITHOUT retribution from governing bodies. Surely this is a better model than suffering through many inspections with poor grades and told to make changes ‘or else!’

A course /program evaluation has three perspectives: course level; institution level; and the regulatory level. Given that regulatory bodies around the globe are so diverse and different I will only concern myself with the first two.

There is a group in the US that has started to do some interesting things with surveys to measure what tests alone can’t. They are using surveys to analyse data to generate a number of ‘data driven aha moments’ providing insights about teachers, content and students. They created a framework with four attributes: growth mindset, self-efficacy, self-management and social awareness. (Kamenetz, 2015) Not only does this seem to dovetail with what employers want, it also supports Kim’s (2015) notion that, “If personalized learning is to become the dominant paradigm for education in the U.S., more school districts are going to need to follow their path independently, via broader cultural change.”

Final Thought: Should not any course/program/institution be ultimately ‘judged’ against whether participants are progressing in their Individual learning journey? (Luckily my current research is working on such a process. Stay tuned!)




Education Myths….#1   Education Myths….#2   Education Myths….#3

Education Myths….#4   Education Myths….#5   Education Myths….#6

Education Myths….#7   Education Myths….#8   Education Myths….#9

Education Myths….#10  Education Myths….#11  Education Myths….#12

Education Myths…#11

Myth #11 (of 12): Bloom is no longer relevant

Any organization, teacher, trainer or instructor who focuses on ‘noun’ objectives (see myth #10) can’t help but only focus on the cognitive domain. However, if you only focus on the cognitive domain, learners may have trouble in finding value in the material that is being covered. “In spite of the wide acceptance of Bloom’s taxonomy, educators have largely ignored the affective domain, focusing instead on the cognitive.” (Bolin, 2005)  “What is the ‘value’ in learning this information/skill?” “Why are we studying this?” “How is it relevant to my situation?” Whether stated in class, or with colleagues at lunch, or with family at night, these statements resonate around the globe.

The reason most young people (certainly in the West) want to get a license is – for freedom. To go driving in your own car (or borrow the parents car if still at home) is a huge step in independence. Therefore, the affective goal of getting a license is to feel independent and seen as a pseudo right-of-passage to growing up. The socio-motor goal is to drive safely (usually to keep tickets and insurance costs low), thus the need to learn to drive in various conditions and terrains. The cognitive goal is to pass the test. But the cognitive needs the affective for motivation and the socio-motor to pass the practical aspects of the test. Whether you realize it or not, we utilize all three domains in our personal lives here in the 21st Century.

21st Century Bloom: A few years ago I decided to delve into Bloom and see what the recent literature had to say. They all had some interesting ideas and a few researchers had developed updated versions. Instead of having to choose a version of Bloom to fit my situation, I decided to compile all the versions into one table per domain.(bloom DOMAIN+TABLES) This document consists of three pages – one table for each domain – but uses some of the newer terminology to describe each level. Too simplify things, I used different color text in the tables that corresponds with the source citation at the bottom of each page.

I then proceeded to generate a few ‘training’ videos on how to best utilize these tables when planning course/lesson outcomes. I selected the topic of ‘giving a presentation’ as these skills are needed across all education systems and require a heavy does of all three domains. Given that outcomes are the core reason for the existence of any lesson/course/program, writing them should take the most time and effort.

Final Thought: From Sandy Welton (link to discussion)
-If you tell someone how to do something, does this mean they know it?
-If you show someone how to do something, does this mean they can do it?
-If someone knows how to do something, does this mean they will do it?


Education Myths….#1   Education Myths….#2   Education Myths….#3

Education Myths….#4   Education Myths….#5   Education Myths….#6

Education Myths….#7   Education Myths….#8   Education Myths….#9

Education Myths….#10  Education Myths….#11  Education Myths….#12