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V1.0 Developed by Randy Fisher, MA and Gurmit Singh, M.Ed., January 2010.


The 3-Os - a learning model for your 21st century evolution

Learn, live and work together continuously across the world by participating in virtual global networks


Solving Professional and Organizational Development Dilemmas with web-based learning communitines


If you find it difficult to manage your professional and organizational development with technology effectively, a new online action learning model may be the solution you are looking for.


3-O Learning Communities synergise networked, digital and connected, social and informal, personalized and pervasive learning across the world to realise human potential in the 21st century.

Synthesising existing and recent advances in the theory and practice of human learning, the 3-Os Learning communities are made up of people who share a common purpose and who harness technology to advance our world through what they do and all they are and can be. They explore, discover, experiment, collaborate, develop and share by drawing on individual strengths, respecting a variety of perspectives, and actively developing and promoting ongoing learning opportunities among themselves. The outcomes are the creation of a vibrant, synergistic environment, enhanced potential for all members, and the possibility that new knowledge will be created and sustained by the community as it evolves and adapts to thrive in the 21st century.

Why use the 3-Os

The 3-Os team will facilitate your professional and organizational development effectively because we know how to gradually adapt current online / face-to-face workshops, courses and programmes, staff meetings and team building, by providing employees/stakeholders with access to ongoing peer and expert social and informal learning opportunities, with online mentoring support, centered in a virtual learning community within your organization. In addition to our educational expertise with technology, we are also change management experts. We bring our diverse and deep experience and knowledge base together in a synergy of theory and practice to drive your growth.

The 3-Os team can successfully execute your evolution into a networked organization because we draw on the best knowledge and skills of our team's intense and deep commitment to improving their own practice through constant inquiry, research, and innovation to provide the best solutions possible for each era of your organizational growth and development into the 21st century.

3-O Learning Communities (3-O LCs)

  • are strategically-designed and aligned to organizational vision, mission and culture
  • are an inclusive and participatory action-oriented model for continuous engagement across time and distance,
  • sustainably and scalably evolve existing face-to-face and elearning training into ongoing global networked conversations
  • facilitate competency development and leadership behaviour, and
  • disseminate and implement the latest evidence for improving your professional field of interest.

3-O LCs can be designed with appropriate curricula and pedagogic capacities, with key employees/stakeholder champions and influencers who are engaged, coached and mentored to lead within the larger community and sub-communities to sustain innovation, change and growth and implement strategies and policies for achieving your organization's stated mission.

Theoretical Framework for the Concept

  1. Distributed cognition and leadership
  2. Networked learning and networked organization
  3. Knowledge as a social good that is socially constructed and emergent in flow, not static
  4. Social capital development
  5. Lifelong learning in a knowledge networked economy
  6. Social constructivist and connectivist learning theories
  7. Complexity theory and organizational development theory


The pedagogical model of the 3-Os is based on constructivist and experiential learning approaches effective for a networked ecology to spark ongoing knowledge creation, transfer and implementation, which implies the following assumptions:

  • learning involves an active process of construction by the learners at both individual and social levels, rather than the passive reception of knowledge;
  • the role of the educator is that of a facilitator that supports independent engagement in the process of construction through scaffolding and the provision of advanced organisers into the learning environment;
  • collaboration and peer support relationships are essential features in order to enable engagement in dialogue, exploration of multiple perspectives, exchange of experience, ideas and feedback, and overcome isolation;
  • learning activities must be authentic and situated within a real context if learning and skills are to be transferred easily into another contexts;
  • programme and module design should engage with learners’ individual experiences and encourage ownership of, and motivation to learning;
  • technology can be harnessed effectively for learning only if learners themselves are in control of using technology to suit their learning needs as participants in a learning community.


Because we have learnt the importance of customizing any learning to an organization's developmental needs for its people's growth, the 3-Os team will design a context-specific and personalised curriculum collaboratively with you and your people. A curriculum is no longer a standard package to be delivered, but a living, breathing entity that is continually refreshed and personalised for all participants at whatever stage of personal and professional development they are, to suit each and everyone's diverse learning needs and preferences. This process of curriculum design will determine the syllabus, the content materials, the learning tasks, the resulting learning activities and the ICT learning environment. The conjunction of these five factors forms the vibrant educational setting the 3-Os team will create to drive your organizational growth into the networked era.

Our Design for Implementing the Concept in your Organization

The 3-Os team engages your stakeholders with inclusive and participatory approaches that strengthen your organization’s relationships, builds a robust community, and seeks way to increase and enhance communication throughout your ecosystem. We partner with our clients to co-create solutions that build their skill and confidence over the long term.

In obtaining stakeholder input and feedback for your project, the 3-Os team will identify synergistic opportunities for engaging and communicating with internal and external stakeholders as a community to:

  • identify and recommend strategies for reducing resistance to change/transition;
  • identify opportunities and recommend strategies for increased stakeholder collaboration, performance and optimal workload distribution;
  • build support and momentum for buy-in, ownership and a sense of pride for this initiative;
  • leverage opportunities for new relationships, communication and Web 2.0 social networking.

Underpinning our approach is a focus on action research and learning to support meaningful project involvement, social/Web2.0 networking and mutual learning, in order to increase communication, advocacy for policy change, and sustainable project implementation for continuous results improvement. These activities will be developed in alignment with your strategic objectives, operational metrics, organizational culture and available resources to ensure we deliver an effective intervention.

Multiple points of entry for long-term growth in the networked era

With the 3-Os unique and dynamic approach to organizational development, you can:

  1. Integrate 3-O LCs as part of your organization's interactive learning strategy and organization development
  2. Teach your employees/stakeholders to use social media software responsibly (Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, iPhone apps. etc.) as part of their ongoing learning and sharing of new ideas and improving performance.
  3. Attach 3-O LCs as exciting participative, follow-on opportunities to online webinars and elearning modules/courses to promote deeper learning
  4. Engage partners and sponsors to grow communities on priority issues
  5. Link and network with employees and customers to collaborate globally on joint projects - for creating, remixing and re-using content - across time and distance, with a common goal to advance specific agendas and priorities for social change outcomes and increase performance.

Theoretical Rationale for our Design

A driving force behind the attention being paid to 'change' is the idea that the ability to handle and sustain change and innovation is central to success in improving business and society. This concept is particularly applicable to the management of Organizational and professional development programmes in (insert relevant field) because of constant changes in this field.

Consequently, educational managers are looking for the 'best' way to manage change which, for the most part, emerges as a series of steps or 'recipes' to be followed to create an efficient, effective, successful educational setting around the workplace.

Therefore, no simple template or checklist can hope to predict and resolve the complex interactive processes involved in this type of change process. A different type of framework is needed, based on empirical and research evidence, which can support educational managers "to provide opportunities to investigate perspectives and rehearse and test responses to them, thus reducing misunderstandings, friction and conflict within team environments" [1]. At the core of such a framework is the collection of feedback from administrators, managers and learners prior to, during and after program delivery, so as to adapt solutions to specific teaching and learning needs.

Thus, action research provides an ideal approach to the management of change, which involves a close collaboration between practitioners and facilitators over a matter that is of genuine concern to them [2]. This type of research embodies the principles of pragmatism applied to research and change by providing an approach for knowledge creation, reflection and application in action [3]. However, while there are examples of successful deployment of action research in business, these are rare, difficult to create and hard to sustain [3].

This situation is probably due to the lack of a specific framework to support the change process within 21st century Networked Business environments, since traditional action research only provides us with generic constructs [4] [5].

Consequently, we propose an educational model called the 3-Os that can be used as a specific action research framework. It is grounded on the principle of practitioner action research as the guide for everyday work and professional life [4].

Action Research for developing a Learning Community

Action Research Cycle V1.0.jpg


Research shows that the interactions required to sustain collaboration over an online learning community contributes to professional development in the following ways:

  1. First, professional learning has become more socially-distributed, embedded and reinforced by the Internet for distribution and access. (i.e, learning by doing and sharing with peers, creating, trying, applying, improving,networking, performing)
  2. Second, structuring learning communities fosters ongoing collaboration and encourages using colleagues as resources in an iterative cycle of discovering, enacting, and evaluating new practices. Hence, it builds 'participation awareness' and competence. Getting innovative approaches and ideas into practice is thus quicker, more intense, and more cost-effective. Knowledge is managed in and by the community, as tacit knowledge from practitioners is codified into explicit knowledge by synthesists and community leaders/experts in a collaborative, critical dialogue based on mutual trust, reflection and shared understandings. New knowledge is created and spread more rapidly without waiting for a workshop or an expert, as expertise resides in the community.
  3. Learning communities promote changes in values and attitudes socially as emotional bonds strengthen, which is essential if learning is to result in new behaviour [6][7] and in unlearning old patterns that hamper effective performance and contribution to society.
  4. Third, the communities of practice that result from these collaborations have complex influences on the social structures that compose the organization. Hence, they contribute to organizational change. (Senge, 5th Discipline, 1999)
  5. Fourth, they particularly benefit those professionals who are emotionally and intellectually isolated and need/wish to be nurtured and motivated to keep improving and not give up in the face of initial hurdles. Peer-peer learning is better at engaging and motivating change sustainably, rather than a single instruction from a lecturer in a workshop.
  6. Fifth, at the highest level, a strong community can promote systems and social change by sharing risks and responsibilities, as well as rewards, and enhance community development in the 21st century.


The concept of the 3-Os Learning Communities draws on a wide body of theory related to learning and sociology. Learning communities have much to recommend them in an increasingly complex world where we cannot expect any one person to have sufficient knowledge and skills to confront the complexities of institutions, our society and individuals and the tasks these face. They are consistent with a constructivist approach to learning that recognises the key importance of interactions with others, and the role of social interactions in the construction of values and identity. They provide a value-added approach to blending digital technologies with flexible and independent action learning in and at work. For your organization and its stakeholders, Learning Communities can significantly mitigate risk and resistance to change and yield emergent opportunities for your employees/stakeholders and your organization in the increasingly complex world of the twenty-first century.


[1] Fox, R and Herrman, A. Changing Media, Changing Times: Coping with Adopting New Educational Technologies. In Evans, T and Nation, D. (eds) Changing University Teaching: Reflections on Creating Educational Technologies. London: Kogan Page Ltd, 73-84. (2000)

[2] Eden, C. and Huxham, C. Action Research for Management Research, British Journal of Management, 7(1), 75-86. (1996)

[3] Levin, M. and Greenwood, D. Pragmatic Action Research and the Struggle to Transform Business into Learning Communities. In Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. London: Sage Publications, 103-113 (2001)

[4] Stringer, E. Action Research (2nd Edition). California: Sage Publications, Inc. (1999)

[5] Coghlan, D. & Brannick, T. Doing Action Research in Your Own Organisation. London: Sage Publications, Ltd. (2001)

[6] Candy, P. Self-Direction for Lifelong Learning: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (1991)

[7] Kilpatrick, S., Bell, R. & Falk, I. (1999). The role of group learning in building social capital, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 51(1), pp. 129-144.

[8] Shurville, S.J. and Rospigliosi, A. 2009. Implementing blended self-managed action learning for digital entrepreneurs in higher education Action Learning: Research and Practice, Volume 6, Issue 1 March 2009 , pages 53 – 61.

Other relevant sources

  • Bridges, William (2003). Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, 2nd edition. Perseus Books Group.
  • Fisher, Randy S. (2009). Primal Needs Gone Digital: Educators' Motivations in an Open Wiki Environment. Masters Project Paper, Fielding Graduate University, Master’s Program in Organizational Management and Development, Santa Barbara, California. Published in Public Domain wiki http://www.wikieducator.org/OMD/MPII/MP_Paper_II
  • Pascale, T., Millemann, M., Gioja, L. (2000). Surfing the edge of chaos: The laws of nature and the new laws of business. New York, Three Rivers Press.
  • Raymond, Eric S. (2000). The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Version 3.0 Thyrsus Enterprises.