Dynamic Dialogue puts You at the Cutting Edge


by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c)

“Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory, its meaning and its methods continue to unfold. No firm rules can be laid down for conducting a Dialogue because its essence is learning, as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between peers.”

David Bohm

from “Dialogue – A Proposal” (1991).

Open and clear communication in learning is a key to success in the modern world. Dialogue, a strategy for promoting creative, high quality communication is becoming popular in distance learning. Dialogue can help your work group and class communicate in powerful and effective ways, putting you at the cutting edge of success.

The notion of using dialogue to create meaning and share ideas started back in the time of Socrates and Plato. Insights were shared with students using what is now called Socratic Dialogue. Modern day genius, David Bohm renewed an interest in dialogue and showed how it could boost our ability to communicate in the modern workplace and learning environment. Bohm proposed that people adopt an air of collective inquiry. This would help them to pay attention to the hidden motivations, assumptions, and beliefs of what people feel and think as they express themselves in conversation.

The word “dialogue” comes from two root words, “dia” meaning “through” and “logos” meaning”the word”. It gives an image of a flow of meaning that emerges as people share and truly listen to one another. Dialogue is unique from other group meeting conversations. Dialogue has no fixed agenda other than to support and create meaning and insight among the people talking.

Dialogue can transform communication within groups of people. It represents a new way to look at how groups of people think, make decisions and choices, and how they learn together. In contrast to discussion, which means “to break things down or apart,” dialogue tends to bring people together in new ways.

Dialogue Participation

Certain communication skills are necessary to join in dialogue.

These include:

  • active, engaged listening
  • an open questioning technique of inquiry
  • sharing feelings, biases, assumptions
  • a relaxed and open attitude
  • no need to achieve a solution
  • a cohesive, equal power climate for all members
  • mutual respect and positive regard for all

Dialogue Creates Culture

One of the key results of active dialogue is the development of a bonded and supportive group culture. Culture always exists within any group, yet may contain division, competition and power struggles. A strong culture can be built by spending time in the exchange of words, metaphors,ideas, beliefs, values, points of view and self disclosure through dialogue.

The practice of dialogue or “the way of meaning” is a conscious activity. It requires openness,sensitivity, empathy, maturity, intelligence, and respect. It also requires a suspension of normal reactions to words and the willingness to listen to others without dismissing their view if it is different from our own.

Dialogue Supports Diversity

Dialogue is a tool uniquely suited to the support of the diversity in any group. Dialogue makes the differences between people clear without making them “wrong”. The rich talents, experiences and reflections of people are shared and valued as part of the uniqueness of the group. A strong culture and rich diversity are gold to modern organizations.

Dialogue is a way of talking together that can make a work or study group feel close to one another which supports positive group dynamics. Using dialogue can build a dynamic team and group togetherness, both very important for business and educational success in the 21st century.


National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

A global organization dedicated to fostering dialogue between the earth’s citizens in the 21st century, available at: https://ncdd.org/

Education and the Dialogue of Humanity

Neil Phillipson offers a thoughtful overview of the importance of dialogic pedagogy in helping learners “to gain and make sense of knowledge, to appreciate its significance and relevance and to believe that they might have a role to play in its continued development. It will also enhance them as human beings, making them concerned and able to come to understand different perspectives and enabling them to engage in critical, caring, collaborative and creative dialogue with ‘the other’ in whatever form they encounter it.” Available at: http://21stcenturylearners.org.uk/?p=1105

Tips for Successful Online Learning

Online learning tips

by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c)

There are several advantages to taking online courses and programs, including 24/7 access, flexibility, greater fluidity in combining school with work and family, and the potential for interaction and experiences with other students and teachers from all around the globe. Not to mention COVID-19!! But, as with anything else,there are also some drawbacks. Learners need to be keenly self-directed and independent, it is very easy to get distracted and not keep up with your studies, and some learners feel isolated and/or frustrated with using a computer or technology in general to learn.

There are some proven strategies that teachers (like myself) can share with learners to help make the online learning experience more enjoyable, manageable, and can support you to complete your course or program successfully. Here are a few suggestions that you may find useful as you undertake your online learning journey.

Set Up Your Computer

The first step in preparing yourself is to ensure your computer meets the requirements of the course. It is highly recommended that your computer is reliable, has plenty of hard drive space available, and can handle downloading files, video and audio recordings, and multiple windows can easily be open simultaneously without crashing or freezing the whole system. It is also very helpful to have a strong broadband connection. Life will be much much easier with this simple intervention. If you can afford to have your own private computer, all the better. There is nothing more nerve wracking than living in fear that your loved ones may erase or somehow damage your precious school files. If you can back up your folders and files in a cloud or other online drive – do so! As well, having a private, pleasant place to work on your computer also boosts your ability to study quietly and with as little distraction as possible.

Prepare your Course Files

The second step is to prepare your online workspace. First, make a special folder on your main computer drive (probably Drive C) and name it to match your course. If you are taking multiple courses, it is helpful to make a separate folder for each course. Then, make a similar folder in your email program to store emails from your instructor, classmates, or files you have sent to yourself (readings, references, etc.).

Prepare your Paper Files

Many students who take courses online like to have a hard copy of course materials, references, assignments, etc. Purchase some three ring binders and some computer paper (and ink) and a paper punch so you can easily and neatly store your printed materials.

Set Your Study Schedule

It is important to set some regular time for your course(s) and to resolve to stick to it. It can be very easy to be distracted. Within reason, refuse to let anything stand in your way. This may take some negotiation with family members, but if you are determined, usually loved ones will get used to the routine and may even help you to abide by it. The best way to choose this special time is to evaluate your current schedule and select, say, three two-hour blocks per course that fit into your weekly routine well. You also need to consider your own body and mental rhythms. What time of the day do you feel the brightest and most alert? For some, night time is the best time…for others, early morning is best. Or maybe for you, mid-afternoon is the high point of your energy cycle. Figure out when your most productive time is, then try to capitalize on this.

Participate in all Interactive Activities

You may find it a little intimidating at first, but it will really help your feeling of belonging, plus help you to learn the course content, if you make sure that you participate in all scheduled or assigned forums, journals, chats, email discussions and other interactive activities. Do not hesitate to interact with your instructor as well – they are there to facilitate your learning. A good instructor will encourage student participation and individual interaction.

Organize your Work

Even if the course you are taking is self-paced, try to do some work every week. If the course is based on weekly assignments and activities, resolve to keep up. Learn to deal with procrastination so that you don’t fall behind in your readings, interactive activities, weekly assignments, or studying for tests and exams. It helps to have an online or book journal organizer and to record your goals for each week in it. Remember to write or type out due dates, exam dates, etc. so that you avoid a mad dash to get things done. This will help you to feel both control and enjoyment as you move through the material.

All of these strategies will help you to move through your online course with confidence, and to enjoy the journey. And again, remember your teacher is your guide – don’t ever be afraid to approach them with questions, and requests for directions or clarification. You have invested in this course experience, and have the right to ask for help or support. Happy Learning!