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The Illuminative Method

Research Project, Doctoral Study

This research method emerged from my sketchbooks and evolved into a doctoral study. To read more about my academic work read here. The Illuminative method is a seven-stepped process for learners to incorporate user design, critical thinking, and strength-based methods to work together to explore, design, and test their own systems for learning. 

I developed it over ten years, asking groups of people to track whenever they felt those ‘higher’ and hard-to-define sensations like synchronicity, love, wholeness, and appreciation--anything that made them feel the planet is holding itself together through that feeling.

The research hypothesizes that this is a pattern or a metaphorical illuminative system that is part of a larger ecological network or evolutionary design meant to establish homeostasis within the planet. 


Meeting as groups in person, or posting online to an interactive website, adults tracked, recorded, and described in layman’s terms their everyday encounters with illumination. Illumination in this sense could be spiritual and/or secular significance.

Participants then built data files of these illuminative sensations recorded in video, text, sound bite, drawing, and/or journaling. The research became a spatial and sensory awareness activity, initiated from an appreciative foundation, which eventually lead to participants conducting informal skillshares where adults teach one another the strengths they possess when illuminated. Next, adults collectively designed new courses, programs, and products for their immediate community. 


A pilot study reveals that adults yearn for opportunities to talk about illuminative moments with one another.

The Illuminative Method has been presented at the DePaul School for New Learning, Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE), ACM Creativity and Cognition Conference, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, Jossey-Bass Online Teaching and Learning Conference, and at Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINS), sponsored by Savannah College of Art and Design, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.

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