Monday, 21 April 2008

Blog Learning

Something I (probably too often) talk about is learning via a blog. It certainly is a great lens to have in viewing the world. It puts you into a learning mode. It naturally builds a network of learning cohorts. Simply put, it's a wonderful learning tool.

But what struck me recently is how great the feedback and interaction can be. In other words, I'm learning via blog comments and blog posts by other bloggers - likely much more than anyone reading the blog itself.

In some cases, I've set out with a specific information need and asking for input:
On the last of these, I was steered away from a particular approach to a session. This was great learning. Come to find out, people don't like those small break out sessions at most conferences either. I've seen them so often, I just assumed I should be doing them also. Blog learning!

In many cases, I post my thoughts and someone comes in to correct me or redirect my thinking. Take a look at:
I started with a kind of inquiry and found myself realizing that one of the citations I gave was an example of a badly designed course teaching about instructional design.

But one of the best kinds of examples comes out of discussions such as in the following:
I originally posted a thought. Then people came in to clarify it and redirect my thinking. I was originally thinking of a pretty limited case - looking up a phone number. How that's changed. And I may still use that. But consider how rich the problem is as described by a comment over the weekend:
I'm running through the same questions in regards to a certification desk of help desk technicians in my office. What is more valuable to the company - a technician that knows the answers, or a technician that knows how to look up the anwers. I'm coming to the point where I am leaning in both directions, and it's kind of making me angry internally for not being able to come to a conclusion.

One one hand - a person who knows the answer immediately sounds more professional (gives a sense of knowledge when speaking to the customer), and resolves problems more quickly.

On the other - a person who knows how to look something up is generally more capable of finding the correct answer, at the expense of a) time spent looking up the correct answer and b) looking like they do not know anything because they constantly need to go for help.

I have a similar issue when it comes down to people who 'understand' the material vs people who look up the answers. I can train almost anyone to fetch an answer from a database, but what is more valuable - a person who truly understands the material and understands why doing action A leads to result B, or person who looks up action A, gets result B, and then has to go back to the answer book to find next step C?

My superiors think that people who can answer scripted questions are more valuable to my industry, yet they consistently rely on people who understand the theory of problem resolution to actually fix anything important. I think that having 2 people who are able to think with logic and resolve issues correctly beats 5 people who can only read from a script.

How do I figure out what is the best situation and how do I convey this to managemnt.
Incredible insight. It's not nearly that simple as the phone number example. And I completely understand what Alan (the commenter) is saying here. And certainly, waiting for someone to look up the answer or finding out that they need to look it up can seem wrong. And not knowing why something is right worries me as well. Certainly, I would worry about hiring someone who always looked up answers and didn't seem to "know" anything.

Blog Learning!

I'm not claiming this is anything new (see Blogging for Learning and Networking) but the comment this weekend gave me new appreciation of the value proposition.

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