What is adaptive learning?

Adaptive learning draws on organisational learning, sustainability learning and adaptive management to institutionalise responsive learning processes for improved integrated coastal zone management (ICZM). As with most reflective learning practices, the processes of adaptive learning are cyclic and incremental with each stage providing the foundation for the next.

The focus on ICZM outcomes requires that coastal practitioners and their organisations are intimately connected with the social and ecological dimensions of dynamic coastal systems - an adaptive learning approach needs to detect and respond to socio-ecological change cognisant of broader system goals. This requires knowledge, creativity, vision and the ability to link different scales of learning. Figure 1 illustrates the central role of adaptive learning in all stages of responsive practice, the creative role of networks and ideas generation in facilitating change, and the inspirational role of goal setting in focusing or guiding activities. Combined with an effective monitoring and evaluation strategy, this approach can facilitate tangible benefits for the coastal zone and those who live there.

In creating this page we were inspired by many authors, search for adaptive learning in the Publications tab in the lefthand panel for more.

Some of our favourites are listed below:

Argyris, C., and D. Schön. 1974. Theory in Practice. Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Holling, C. S. (ed.) 1978. Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. Chichester: Wiley.

Kolb, D. A. 1984. The process of experiential learning. In Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Schön, D. A. 1984. The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Senge, P M. 2006. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.

Tàbara, J. D., and C. Pahl-Wostl. 2007. Sustainability learning in natural resource use and management. Ecology and Society 12 (2):3. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art3/.

References for What is adaptive learning?

Smith, T.. F. (2006).  Institutionalising adaptive learning for coastal management.. Coastal management in Australia: Key institutional and governance issues for coastal natural resource management and planning..
James, C.. R. (2002).  Designing learning organizations. Organizational Dynamics. 32(1), 
Lal, P.., Lim-Applegate H.., & Scoccimarro M.. (2001).  The adaptive decision-making process as a tool for integrated natural resource management: focus, attitudes, and approach. Conservation Ecology. 5(2), 
Davidson-Hunt, I.J.. (2006).  Adaptive learning networks: Developing resource management knowledge through social learning forums.. Human Ecology. 34(4), 
Smith, T.F.., Carter R.W.., Thomsen D.C.., Mayes G.., Nursey-Bray M.., Whisson G.., et al. (2009).  Enhancing science impact in the coastal zone through adaptive learning. Journal of Coastal Research. Special Issue 56,
Smith, T.. F. (2014).  Adaptive Learning Theme Fact Sheet.
Myers, S.., Thomsen D.C.., Tarte D.., Dutra L.., Ellis N.., Thébaud O.., et al. (2012).  Adaptive learning and coastal management. In, Kenchington, R., Stocker, L. & Wood, D. (Eds) Sustainable Coastal Management and Climate Change: Lessons from Regional Australia. Chapter 7,
Stephenson, C.., Thomsen D.C.., Mayes G.., & Smith T.F.. (2011).  Shock treatment: adaptive learning in response to the South-East Queensland oil spill. In, Wallendorf, L., Jones, C. Ewing, L. & Battalio, B. (Eds). Solutions to Coastal Disasters 2011. 887-898.
Gidley, J.., Fien J., Thomsen D.C.., & Smith T.F.. (2010).  Participatory Futures Methods as Social Learning: Towards Adaptability and Resilience in Climate-vulnerable Communities. Environmental Policy and Governance. 19(6), 427-440.
Gidley, J.., Fien J., Thomsen D.C.., & Smith T.F.. (2010).  Participatory Futures Methods as Social Learning: Towards Adaptability and Resilience in Climate-vulnerable Communities. Environmental Policy and Governance. 19(6), 427-440.

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