3 Dimensions of Understanding
Protocol: Attributes of a Learning Community

Adapted from:


Through storytelling, groups determine the attributes of a growth-oriented learning community. These attributes are used to assess the group’s work/progress as a community at a later time.


1. Prior to a synchronous session, participants are prompted to reflect upon and jot down brief notes about a personal experience in a learning community that they know was a place of positive learning and growth for them. (Note: A variety of experiences may be considered a learning community, including but not limited to: a course, club, group within a place of worship, etc.) Participants may consider noting:
  • the purpose of the group’s existence,
  • how it was structured, and
  • what made it a positive place to learn and grow.

2. During the synchronous meeting, participants would gather in separate chat rooms in groups of 3-4 to share their stories.

3. After each story is shared, the group would highlight specific attributes that made that place a positive, growth-oriented community. (Example: Everyone listened to one another.) These attributes are placed on the group’s whiteboard.

4. After all stories have been shared and subsequent attributes highlighted, the group will decide upon 4-5 attributes that stand out for them. These will likely be the ones that were highlighted the most and could also be an attribute that was mentioned only once, but remains important to the group members. A designated member of the group will share out these attributes to the whole group.

5. All participants return to the main meeting space. Each group will then take turns sharing one attribute at a time, also taking time to place this on the main room whiteboard or shared Google Doc. Repeated attributes are given an additional star or asterisk.

6. Once the list is complete, the Connected Coach will confirm with the group if these attributes are ones that the community can live by as they learn together. Additions made are added to the list. If any attribute listed is either hard to do or inappropriate to the context, this will be noted by the attribute.

7. The whiteboard or Google Doc will be saved to the participants’ asychronous community space. This finalized list will be reviewed by the community of learners on a periodic basis.

Note: Ideally this protocol would be utilized during a synchronous meeting and could be adapted for purely asynchronous learning through the use of threaded discussions (steps #1-4) and voice applications (i.e. Voxopop, Voicethread, Audioboo) for steps #5-7.