Writing the Four Stages Stage 1 - Concrete Experience There’s an old proverb that says ‘experience is what you get after the fact’. Keep this in mind as you write your Concrete Experience because it is an experience you’ve had which you need to document. ‘Documenting’ is also used purposefully because it sums up the Stage 1 requirement. Stage 1 is the feeling stage. Aside from the fear this prompts for the rationalists amongst us the main difficulty with documenting the Concrete Experience is the need to reflect upon the situation (ie, it has already happened otherwise we couldn’t be writing about it). Consequently—because it has happened in the past—we often inadvertently end up in Stage 2 (Reflective Observation). Two tools to aid the student with Stage 1 are: write in the first person and write in the present tense. “Hi, I’m Nicola,” loudly declares the dark-haired, twenty something girl who has arrived for a three o’clock computer-based training session. I introduce myself and accept the training manual she offers. The organization is a university, and the programme I’m being trained on, CROSSFIRE, is the main student database. Nicola explains [loudly] that she will log me in and ‘we’ll go from there’. I wonder whether her heightened volume is due to nerves. Having organised two chairs I’m somewhat dismayed when she takes the driver’s seat. “But I need to know how to log on and what the screens look like,” I think to myself. But it’s too late as she’s already [logged] in and like a filly on race day she’s off. Having reclaimed the manual she’s attempting to introduce me to two additional sheets of information as her hands fly left, right, up and down, back and forth across the keyboard. “F8 clears the screen,” she informs, “and F4 takes you forward a screen. “F6 is the exit key and F9 … but don’t worry about these for now. I eventually comprehend that the additional information contains instructions about forms and reports, ‘for things like Zoaster, Zoonit, and Uldreg’ she explains. I have no idea what these mean and it’s all moving way too quickly and I feel that at some basic level I am sadly lacking something, it’s like some pre-knowledge that I should just know has eluded me. “You’re looking really worried,” she booms in my left ear. Given the pace and jargon, and an inner concern I’m secretly being trained on a Lord of the Rings’ pilot programme, my inner critic and I have commenced an argument about high expectations [a common and ongoing theme]. She’s very friendly and approachable,” prompts my light side. I opt for small talk. “Does CROSSFIRE stand for something? ” I ask. I’m met with a blank stare and a significant pause in verbal and bodily communications. “Is it an acronym? ” I elaborate. “I don’t know,’ she says, “no one’s ever asked that before”. Her mobile phone rings breaking the break in our conversation and as she answers my dark-side kicks in. Dismay and concern give way to annoyance about poor structure, inadequate facilitation, and basic considerations of courtesy.
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