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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Improving Personal Learning - A Continuing Challenge for Learning Professionals

From Wikipedia's description of Knowledge Economy, quoting Peter Drucker (1966):
A manual worker works with his hands and produces "stuff". A knowledge
worker works with his head and produces ideas, knowledge, and information.

What's the most important skill of a knowledge worker? I would claim...

The most important skills of a knowledge worker are learning skills.

I would also suggest that learning skills are dramatically shifting over the past few years and learning professionals are not staying ahead of these shifts. If you read what is coming out in discussions of Informal Learning, Personal Learning Environments, eLearning 2.0, all of them point that personal learning (or self-directed learning or learning how to learn) is where we should focus our attention to get the greatest effect.

I would ask you to assess yourself right now...

How much time/effort are you spending on understanding how you (as an
individual) can be a better learner? How much time are you spending understanding how to help others as individuals become better learners?

I would assume that anyone reading this blog post is likely in the top few percent in terms of personal learning, but I would question whether you've thought about how this could help others improve - or how are your personal learning processes similar or different from other readers. This is what I don't think the broader community has addressed well at all.

If you take a look at what is being discussed in learning circles, I would claim that We Are Approaching Learning from the Wrong Direction. One phrase has stuck with me that captures it well...

The individual is the new group.

We need to focus on helping individuals be empowered and competent in their own learning. A recent article in CLO Magazine, Implementing Learning-How-to-Learn Strategies talks about this need, but focuses primarily on getting more from instruction as opposed to learning on your own. It also lacks specific, pragmatic advice to build learning skills.

I would suggest that before we can help others, we need to help ourselves. We need to better understand how we can improve our own personal learning. By this, I mean specific suggestions, specific skills, pragmatic advice. I'm looking for Lifehacker for personal learning.

I'm going to try to post specific advice and suggestions on this blog and have in the past (see: Tools and Strategies for Personal Learning and Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective).

I would ask that as you run across things you find interesting in this domain you blog about it and drop me a note so I can link to you, or let me know so I can blog about it.

Or if you disagree that this is one of the most (if not the most) important discussion topics for learning professionals today, I would love to hear your counter argument.

Keywords: eLearning Trends, eLearning 2.0, Web 2.0, Personal Learning


Chris Davison said...

I thought this was a great article exposing the fact that schools (especially) need to investigate personalised learning to ensure that school activities remain relevent and interesting to students. As a worker in the eleaning sector, I also believe that personalised and networked methods of teaching an learning represent the future of education. This is the most efficient way of disseminating best practice while ensuring individual needs are being met. For articles relating to this topic and more, visit

Unknown said...

Informal learning is a way enabled via social media or web 2.0 technologies. With the advent of these feature rich technologies, community based learning has become an indispensable part of Learning systems as well. Evidently, what you can learn from your peers by communication and collaboration is equally important. It gives a new dimension to learning not only to the student but also to the authority holding the online lessons.