Saturday, August 22, 2009

A State of Flow

I haven't blogged for a while now. Why? I ask myself. No particular reason other than the fact that I have been actively engaged in an activity that has completely taken over me. I realized that I was in a state of flow - as described by Jeff in his blog.

I learnt that "flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields."
The concept has wide application in all areas of our life including as learning consultants. The way I look at it, I need to ensure that my learners are able to seek active engagement in the learning process and therefore experience this state of flow.

The factors that determine flow as suggested by Csíkszentmihályi include:
1. Clear goals
2. Concentrating and focusing
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness
4. Distorted sense of time
5. Direct and immediate feedback
6. Balance between ability and challenge
7. A sense of personal control
8. Intrinsically rewarding activity
9. Absorption in the activity

With a learning consultant hat on, these seem to be the 'mantra' - the core learning design principles. To allow my learners to experience flow, the learning intervention that I design should include some of these 9 factors. I also feel that these factors already resonate with many learning principles that make their way through concepts like learning-by-doing, action-learning, task-based learning etc.

An interesting application of flow is in the area of group-learning or what Csíkszentmihályi calls as Group Flow. Csíkszentmihályi suggests several ways in which a group could work together so that each individual member could achieve flow. In the context of some of the Web 2.0 methods of learning and increased use of online learning and social learning, these considerations could help learning consultants design effective group learning interventions that allow the entire group to learn together.

To learn more about flow and its value:-