Coach Carole Ramblings

Celtic, Mythical and More …

#change11 – ‘Stealth Mentoring’


I am listening to Clark Quinn who is speaking to the gathered Moocers in Change11 via Blackboard Collaborate and creating this blog post at the same time. This is a bit of a ‘change’ for me – trying out my new model of ‘change by stealth’ on myself.
Clark asks ‘how do we actually learn’? and I ask that question often when preparing to assist elearners. The question is a useful one as it validates my process of making sure that I can reach those I mentor in a meaningful way.
One of the strategies I find happening now in webinars and conferences is the ‘learning from the back channelling’ conversations – and I’m seeing that in action in the text chat as I listen to Clark. Ideas bounce and create new knowledge in that flow of conversation – some confusion happens with choice of language and short pithy comments – but generally a new level of learning happens while watching the conversation.
Being able to pause and review is helpful to me as I learn what the speaker’s message is all about.

The diagram Clark has generated to explain an ideal learning environment – with the Sage on the Side theme,  really helped me to think through the new way of learning that is emerging.
Quote from an audience member “I just want to perform” – need that on a Tshirt – this conjured up a vision of the newlearner. (see my poor attempt at graphically describing the newlearner below.)

Clark clarifies the layering in life learning – meta elearning, concepts, performance support – he says ‘start making learning visible’ and embracing ‘learning out loud’. Showing the thinking helps us to internalise, synthesise and unpack through our filters. I agree with that and find that by ‘walking through a process’ with a newlearner showing my thinking will help them find the pattern they need.
Quinn says: “Humans are really good at pattern matching learning but not good at rote processing for problem solving” – advice – use augmentation to assist in filling that ‘gap’ – a learning GPS to help reach our destination. (Note: I think that Siri on the new iPhone is structured to do this – to me that sounds a little spooky.) However I do hear the expression ‘there’s an App for that’ more often now, especially now that I chat with many other iPad users. so maybe this is part of the new landscape of learning for the next few years. I know that having an iPad for my computing has helped me change and probably has changed my brain forever. (smiles)

Okay now we are viewing Quinn’s Performer in the centre – a diagram that shows learning activities on a continuum from reflective to active; formal to informal.
Noted the question from an audience member about not following and wanting Quinn to summarise his thinking about learning right now. (Having read Quinn’s blog posts prior to listening to him was helpful to me – my understanding is flowing – this emphasised the need for different ways for different learners to learn.)
Interesting to see Quinn talk about the difference to the learner and what he/she does after the learning moment, using the mobile learning device as an example. Mobile device can ‘locate’ you in your learning space and put things into context so that the learning is ‘captured’. (Note: I notice more and more of my Apps ask me do I wish to show my location – I usually say no. I notice many other Tweets that identify where the tweeter is – is that helpful? Does it make a difference to what i capture?  I don’t know yet?)
Improvements in the design elegance of the web shows the current technical sophistication that we are learning with – from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 intrigues me – this is the future and how do we prepare for that? Personally I am a big advocate of user-generate content. I am in agreement with the comments coming through that we need to help newlearners to learn gradually and feel confidently prepared for how they will ‘learn to learn’ in the future. Adaptation springs to mind as I contemplate the Web 3.0 system-generated content …. plus I need someone to explain what the semantic web really means.
(Note: I am in complete agreement with the audience comment about self-directed learning – as opposed to directed learning.)

Stephen’s comment made me smile:
Stephen Downes
4:44 AM
That’s the tourist analogy – been using that for years – informal learning is like touring a city on your own… formal learning is like being kidnapped and taken some place you don’t want to go.

A thought in my mind is now ‘ensure that I ask my newlearners where do you want to go’?

Whoa, now we straying into the ‘sublime’ as Quinn shares his diagram where the Intelligent Learning Engine is at the centre. Sounds more like Cyborg stuff to me at the moment – but I need to remain open minded – maybe this is the model of ‘brain plug-ins’ that I have long desired.

Aha I heard Quinn use the ‘stealth mentor’ phrase – pausing and reviewing to check – yes, he did, try being the anaylst underneath to find out what happens to the learning and the learner when certain pathways are chosen. Help the learner to instinctively make the appropriate choices.

This brings me to the central issue that I am grappling with right now – ‘change by stealth’. Now I need to change my thinking from being about the Sage on the Side to being the ‘stealth mentor’ and how that might help me provide the right amount of guidance at the right time.

I liked this comment from Mike in the audience:
Mark McGuire
4:51 AM
@Stephen Downes That sounds good. Learning how to understand the morph, coming to terms with something that never takes a fixed form – a shape-shifting world in which our environment is in constant flux, and we are constantly changing through our engagement with it.

This resonated for me as a way of describing what it is that an stealth mentor needs to do and how they can pass that on to the newlearners. What’s your take on ‘stealth mentoring’?


Author: coachcarole

Coach Carole is the name by which many of you will know me - in my role as coach and mentor for teachers, project teams and networks facilitators. I work independently as an elearning consultant for my business Macro Dimensions.

4 thoughts on “#change11 – ‘Stealth Mentoring’

  1. Pingback: Learning different #change11 « connectiv

  2. ‘Stealth mentoring’ seems okay for me, just as long as there’s always consent from the learner or the person your mentoring. I’m sure the learner always knows or signs on for mentoring or training, but it’s always good to confirm and always check if you’
    re ‘doing it right’.


    • Hi Rowan, yes a mentorship contract needs to be in place right up front. The style of mentoring is guided by the conversations between mentor and mentee. I don’t practice the ‘stealth’ part by ‘sneaking up on ’em’ – it should all be open and transparent – however I probably need to explain that the ‘stealth’ part is woven into the activities suggested.

  3. Pingback: #Change11 Is mentoring the way to Slow Learning? | Learner Weblog