Monday, 10 March 2008

Learning Responsibility

The big question for March 2008 is - Scope of Learning Responsibility? Karl Kapp helped me pull this question together and it's been interesting to see the responses so far. I wanted to capture some thoughts as I've been reading these posts so far.

First, my earlier posts Corporate Learning Long Tail and Attention Crisis and Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape lay out that I believe the space in which Corporate Learning (and realistically all learning professionals) operates is changing such that unless they look at providing Long Tail Learning, they will be a continually smaller part of the overall information landscape.

So far the posts have generally suggested a fairly broad view of responsibility for learning professionals. They express that learning professionals have some responsibility for solutions that extend beyond formal learning - whatever you choose to call this: informal learning, peer learning, bottom-up learning, non-formal learning. As Jacob McNulty said in Scope it Out:
I feel that learning professionals should support learning. Period. Whatever form(s) of learning that are most beneficial to the workforce (as well as appropriate members of the value-chain) are the ones that should be pursued.
I like how Clark Quinn broke this down a bit in Scope of Responsibility. He points out that we have responsibility around:
  • Wide range of approaches (resources and job aids, portals, knowledge management, eCommunity, coaching, mentoring, informal learning, etc.), and
  • Promoting a culture of learning
  • Developing learners as learners (or as I would put it - building learning skills)
What's interesting is that there seems to be a disconnect from what is being said in these posts and the reality of what is going on out in various worlds, corporate, education, etc. Or is it just me? Is this happening all over the place and I don't see it? If these kinds of things fall into the responsibility of learning professionals, then why isn't this commonly understood and ACTED upon?

Likely a few different sources of this disconnect:
  • Rest of the world doesn't expect (or look to) learning professionals for anything other than formal learning interventions. When you offer something different, they tell you they just wanted a course.
  • Can you push bottom-up learning from an L&D organization?
  • What does this mean in practice?
These all hurt and I think that trying to address the last bullet helps the most. So, I naturally liked Karyn Romeis - The Big Question for March: Scope of Learning Responsibility suggestions:
I would suggest building solutions which include provision for user generated content. Features such as:
  • discussion forums and/or noticeboards
  • tip of the day/week/whatever
  • FAQs - manned by the champions and drawn from the discussion forums
  • jargon busters' corners (some form of wiki - although it sometimes doesn't to let the audience know that that's what it is!)
The content of these spaces is outside of the scope of the learning professional - although you might provide a starter for 10 to get the ball rolling, but providing the space for this interaction, actively promoting user ownership of the learning process and contribution to the learning content is part and parcel of the provider's responsibility.
Karyn's making a great point. We are used to being publishers and what makes this very challenging is to think of ourselves not as publishers, but as starters, infrastructure, aggregators, etc.

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