Phases Structure of
Learning Circles Interaction
Learning Circle phases guide circle Interaction. Learning Circles have a beginning, a set of steps, and an end, which distinguishes them from other forms of community organizations.
Planning takes place before the circle begins and once a circle begins, the pie chart shows the relative time spent in each of the phases. In the planning time, circle size is determined by balancing the need for diversity of perspectives with opportunities for interaction. The circle opens with introductions to circle members and activities to build trust and cohesion. After this process, the circle moves to framing the projects. This is followed by shared work on the projects, and then exhibitions or sharing of completed work leads to the end of the circle. At the end of a learning circle, the participants can choose to join a new circle and repeat the phases with new participants.
The timeline and deadlines are an important part of the Learning Circle experience. While this dimension resulted from years of empirical experience, social networking theory can be invoked to explain why this is evolved as a practice of learning circles. Granovetter (1973) described the strength of weak ties in a social network. The people in our close networks have already shared what they know or provided the help needed, but those who are a bit more distant are likely to be of more value as they have unknown connections. Learning circles mine the strength of weak ties by continually working with people who are not immediately a part of one’s working group. That is why the diversity of the participants is such an important dimension of the learning circle structure.