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ⓘ Governmental learning spiral

The governmental learning spiral is a technique used to solve specific governance challenges. The governmental learning spiral - a heuristic and multidisciplinary tool - has been developed and implemented at international governmental learning events throughout the past decade. It is used during prearranged educational events such as conferences, e-learning, and trainings to improve performance in democratic governance.

                                     

1. Concept

The technique consists of a nine-stage learning process divided into three phases, which include the planning and aftermath as well as the learning event itself.

A major characteristic of this type of governmental learning event is facilitation by a learning broker who oversees all aspects of event organization. These include logistics, content preparation, drafting and implementation of the agenda, moderation of the learning sessions, and follow-up activities. The learning broker designs the learning process according to the specific governance challenge at hand.

The event must be structured based on several factors:

  • The particular political and institutional environment, which determines who will participate in the activity
  • The specific challenge a government is facing
  • An analysis of the kind of knowledge a government needs to address it

The participants invited to the event must represent different substantive and organizational perspectives and play a precisely defined role as both knowledge holders and knowledge seekers. When this is achieved, participants have unlimited access to the collective wealth of the shared tacit and explicit knowledge.

The effects of applying the governmental learning spiral technique are threefold: The primary effect is that governments gain access to the latest knowledge in democratic governance, which they can then apply to specific governance challenges with concrete, practical action. A second effect is that - because of the iterative character of the learning process - the knowledge being learned is always validated and updated in real time to include the latest experiences on the subject. A third effect is that participation in the learning process evokes a sense of social belonging among the learning actors, which often leads to the creation of networks and communities of practice where governments continue to share their latest experiences and by doing so launch the next spin of the Governmental Learning Spiral.

                                     

2. Template

The governmental learning spiral technique consists of a nine-stage template. The stages of the learning process are organized chronologically in the template and split into three distinct sequences for a particular learning event.

1. Before framing phase: The conceptualization, triangulation, and accommodation stages are the preparatory stages, where the specific governance challenge is defined, existing knowledge on the topic is framed, participants are selected and inivited, and trust is established between the learning actors and the event facilitator and between participants and the learning process itself.

2. During reflection phase: The internalization, externalization, reconceptualization, and transformation stages represent the core of the educational process, where learning actors review and adapt new knowledge according to their personal needs. Thereafter the actors change their individual and organizational thinking and behavior in an elaborate inter- and intrapersonal procedure.

3. After projection phase: The follow-up to the learning activity occurs in the configuration stage, where all the knowledge acquired during the event is made available and accessible to everyone involved in the event as well as to a wider audience. This new knowledge further serves in the final iteration stage as a frame for the next spin of the governmental learning spiral, as well as a feedback loop in the context of a new learning system.

Because knowledge in governance has a short half-life and has to be updated constantly, the learning process itself must also be ongoing. This iterative procedure, where knowledge is constantly reviewed, renewed, and transformed into political action in a real-time, multi-turn process, can be illustrated as a spiral. Each of the nine stages of the learning process is bound together by a "spin," which ends with the last iteration stage and restarts the next spin with its first configuration stage.

                                     

3. Application examples

  • Second International Conference on Federalism
  • A global dialogue on federalism
  • Workshop about lessons of a decade of Public Sector Reform: Voices of African Client Stakeholders
  • Global multimedia training and e-learning initiative in the area of private-public partnership in infrastructure
  • Blindenbacher, Raoul; Maeschli, Bettina; Bruggmann, Philip 1 July 2019. "The Swiss Hepatitis Strategy as a model for facing future health policy challenges". Health Policy. 123 7: 681–687. doi:10.1016/j.healthpol.2019.05.010.
  • Making a difference in minearal-rich areas of the Deomocratic Republic of the Congo
  • Seminar on the Iraqi judiciary system and the second chamber of parliament