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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leading Learning and New Skills

This month on the Learning Circuits Blog - I asked some very leading questions
If we have responsibility for informal learning, social learning, eLearning 2.0, long tail learning, etc. then ...
  • Don't we have to conclude that learning professionals must be literate in these things?
  • If so, then what should learning professionals do to become literate?
  • Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?
  • Shouldn't they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?
  • And then shouldn't the learning organization become a driver for the organization?
  • And like in the world of libraries don't we need to market ourselves in this capacity?
If we really care about improving performance, then we need to recognize the scope of our Learning Responsibility and to broaden ourselves to go from Learning Objectives to Performance Objectives and Business Needs.

Kimberly McCollum in The networked nature of information fairly calls me out for asking such leading questions -
They are more like a rhetorical rallying cry to the already converted. “Yes! We should!”
However, in defense, I would point that there's a disconnect between saying "Yes" and the level of understanding and adoption among people in the profession. Go to an ASTD conference and ask about this stuff. You won't find many who even are aware of any of this. I'm personally out to change this, but we are a long way from being in a position to lead.

And let me back up the need with some thoughts from other bloggers on these questions...

The Learning Revolution: Where have all the leaders gone?
It's not necessary to use all the new online tools that are out there but it is necessary to know about them and understand them if for no other reason than it gives you options, and may improve personal and organisational performance.

I don't believe that a learning professional could call themselves as such without being aware of all the latest developments in learning methods /approaches.
Harold Jarche - Skills 2.0
Enabling learning is no longer about just disseminating good content, if it ever was. Enabling learning is about being a learner yourself, sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm and then taking a back seat. In a flattened learning system there are fewer experts and more fellow learners on paths that may cross. With practice, one can become a guide who has already walked a path. As fields of practice and bodies of knowledge expand, a challenge for learning professionals will be to change their tool sets from prescriptive to supportive.
Gina Minks: Adventures in Corporate Education What Competencies do Knowledge Workers Need?
How can you design with these new tools if you don’t understand them? How can you apply them to your existing systematic learning system if you don’t know what the heck wiki even means? So, yes, learning professionals must learn and use these tools, and then apply the tools to their existing framework.
Clark Quinn - Learnlets: Lead the Charge?
The point being that to truly help an organization you have to move to a performance focus, moving people from novice, through practitioner, to expert, and giving them a coherent support environment. To do this, you need to know what’s available. And, consequently, the learning organization has to experiment with new technologies for it’s own internal workings to determine how and when to deploy them to organizational benefit.
Stephen Lahanas - Welcome to The Revolution
We are indeed at a cross-roads in our perception of what learning can or should be be. It is definitely a revolution, one that can be equally applied to both the personal and organizational level.

Those educators who truly believe that the learners come first and that learning is a continual process should not feel intimidated by whatever new technologies emerge that might be applied to education. This is not a threat - it is enhancement that enriches both learners and educators.
Shilpa Patwardhan: Would you trust a firefighter who did not know how to fight fire?
How in the world can we kid ourselves that not keeping up is okay? Would you trust a firefighter who did not know how to fight fire? Would you trust a lifeguard who did not know the latest life-saving techniques? Would you trust a surgeon who did know the latest surgical procedures? Then why should anyone trust learning professionals who wonder whether they need to be familiar with latest technology?
Catherine Lombardozzi - The short answer is yes
If a learning professional wants to be a thought leader in his or her organization around how to support learning in the workplace, he or she cannot be illiterate in these new technologies.

As learning professionals, not only do we have to come up to speed on the technologies, we have to develop a clearer understanding of how these 2.0 technologies can be used to support learning. Otherwise, our organizations will stumble, and we’ll wind up behind instead of ahead.

Kevin Shadix - There's no "I" in "We."
A big mistake made by way too many folks is to preach the good word without having gone through the transformation themselves. Web 2.0 represents a whole mind shift, not just a set of tools. It is the power of “we” not “I”. It is about people creating content together, not the lone, brave hero leading the pack. The only way to “get it” is to try it.
Deb Gallo - Lead the charge?
As L&D professionals it’s up to us to be innovative and introduce the business to tools and methods that will ultimately improve business performance.

We need to develop our competencies, skills and comfort levels with these new tools. Unless you try it you won’t really get your mind around the possibilities they bring or how you might use them in the workplace.

Taruna Goel - New Work Literacies - Leading the Way
I don’t want to be a learning professional who is sitting on the fence and talking about new tools and technologies and hasn’t used any!
Several people suggested that we should use caution when considering any leadership role ...

Kevin Shadix - There's no "I" in "We."
2.0 has implications beyond the learning function, and we need to let other groups discover and figure out for themselves how they want to use them.
Clive Shepherd
The application of web 2.0 to organisations is not exclusively a learning issue - it permeates all aspects of the way in which people network and collaborate. First of all, the web 2.0 concept must be appropriate to the organisation, and this is open to question when you're looking beyond knowledge workers. Assuming it is appropriate, champions can come from many quarters. If learning professionals have really bought into the idea and can demonstrate how they are applying it productively, then they are in a good position to lead the charge. If not, someone else from another business function will step in.
Jay Cross - No, no, no, no.
It’s presumptuous to assume learning professionals are going to be “leading the charge.” This is not some independent effort. Organizational stakeholders better be taking the lead. And we’d better be supporting their vision.

Of course we must use network technologies ourselves. Understanding how to apply social networks to improve organizational performance is a prerequisite for shaping learning and development from here on out. People who are illiterate in network technology need not apply.

Some good specific suggestions:

Kerry McGuire - Live and Learn: What's the real question?
  • Find two or three people with wide networks and help them solve a workplace issue using these tools.
  • Recruit other people that are passionate to start sending out the same message.
Christy Tucker - Experiencing E-Learning: Leading by Example
If I had to focus on one single skill, it would be lifelong learning. Perhaps this isn’t a skill so much as an attitude.
Peter Isackson - Phoning it in
I would put my effort into making it work from the bottom up and demonstrate how it can achieve other things than self-promotion.


Anonymous said...

Graspr is using the internet to allow people to share knowledge through video. GREAT content.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this posting, Tony. Nice reading all of these comments collected in this format.