Many a knowledge worker will tell you, “I love to learn but I hate to be trained.” Learning is in keeping with the democratization of the workplace spawned by the network revolution. Decision-making is passing from the manager to the worker, and part of the deal is learning crowding out training.
Emergence is the key characteristic of complex systems. It is the process by which simple entities self-organize to form something more complex. As training converges with bottom-up self-organizing systems, network effects, and the empowerment of individuals, it morphs into emergent learning.
People who already know the lay of the land don’t want a curriculum. That’s someone else’s opinion of what they need to know. It undoubtedly contains lots of things they either already know or have no interest in finding out. They prefer to cherry-pick what they need in the easiest way available to them.
Courses are dead. Who’s got the time? Courses are almost always separate from work. That goes against the trend of integrating learning and work. Hence, learning from performance support fits better with today’s workplace.
Training program? This is the same as courses, except often more time robbed from work. Since most learning is social, wouldn’t it be more effective to put workers in touch with others, so they can learn from one another?
A busy person detests being told to make time for something to convenience someone else. Self-service learning is more convenient and more economical. I don’t go to the bank during banking hours much any more. It’s more convenient to bank in the evening. The ATM doesn’t mind what I’m wearing or whether I say hello.
Learning things in advance, “just in case,” is a losing game. Until the case arrives, the worker suspects the subject matter won’t be relevant. And when the case does come along, the knowledge acquired in advance is probably long gone. Knowledge, like muscle tissue, deteriorates when it’s not used. Learning something at the moment of need, however, couples learning and application and that has more lasting effects.
When you cannot predict the future, and emergence is unpredictable, you can’t build training programs in advance because you don’t know what you’ll need. Formal learning takes place in classrooms; informal learning happens in learnscapes.
A learnscape is a learning ecology. As the environment of learning, a learnscape includes the workplace. In fact, a learnscape has no boundaries. No two learnscapes are alike. Your landscape may include being coached on giving effective presentations, calling the help desk for an explanation, and researching an industry on the net. My learnscape could include participating in a community of field technicians, looking things up on Google, and living in France for three months.
How would you build a learnscape for emergent learning?
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