E-learning Curve Blog at Edublogs

E-learning Curve Blog is Michael Hanley's elearning blog about skills, knowledge, and organizational development using web-based training and technology in education

Entries Tagged as 'Colley'

Is informal learning this year’s L&D Rubik’s cube?

March 19, 2009 by Michael Hanley · 2 Comments · Colley, e-learning, e-learning definition, e-learning industry, informal learning, non-formal learning

According to Josh Bersin (Informal Learning becomes Formal):

Clearly we have reached an inflection point. Where “e-learning” was the big craze in corporate training in the early 2000’s, and “blended learning” was the craze in 2003 and 2004, today, thanks to the slowing economy and the widespread availability of social networking and online wikis and portals, “informal learning” is the next big thing.

He continues:

And best of all, an informal learning strategy saves money. By empowering people to publish their expertise and learn from each other, you can cut spending on content development, external content, and formal training – focusing your energies on the “upper right” training programs in your organization. [his italics]

I’ve nothing against crazes.

Take The Watchmen. I’ve been a Watchmen fan since it was first published as a serialized graphic novel back in the mid-Eighties. I think it’s fantastic that thewatchmen recent movie has brought Alan Moore’s magnum opus to a whole new audience.

I’m sure I’ll be equally pleased when the movie version of The Ballad of Halo Jones and D.R. & Quinch are released, and there’s even more appreciation of the quality of Mr. Moore’s work. Oh… you haven’t heard of those then?

Here’s first the thing about crazes – the objects at their center have usually been around for a very long time before they enter the public consciousness. The Watchmen was first published in 1986. It is a troublesome work in many ways – it inverts the role of mythic archetypes (superheroes with all-to-human flaws), and it espouses a certain non-conformist approach that until recently had a value perceived to be inferior to traditional literary approaches – a “comics for kids.”

Yet I would assert that it’s very awkwardness has led to its longevity (if not it’s appreciation in the mainstream culture). When it was published, it was pretty much ignored – and it would probably still be regarded as a piece of interesting cult fiction if Alan Moore hadn’t gone on to write Batman: The Killing Joke, the inspiration for last year’s award-winning film.

Had The Watchmen less intrinsic value before it became a revenue-generating stream for a conglomeration of media production and distribution outlets like 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.?

No.

Here’s the second thing about crazes: they usually occur in ambiguous socio-cultural situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, it can be said that individuals will deem the behavior of others as better informed. Crazes can lead to conformity of large groups of individuals in either correct or mistaken choices, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior. Although informational social influence at least in part reflects a rational motive to take into account the information of others, analysis shows that it can cause people to converge too quickly upon a single choice, so that decisions of even large groups of individuals may reflect very little knowledge.

Here are some stats based on data from research taken from 800+ HR and L&D managers surveyed in 2008 by Bersin & Associates:

  • 78% of corporate managers believe that “rapid rate of information change” is one of their top learning challenges.
  • 80% of all corporate learning takes place through on-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers (estimated data collected from over 1,100 L&D managers late in 2008).
  • Over 30% of all corporate training programs (ie. classroom or other formal programs) are not delivering any measurable value (data provided through the same survey).
  • Nearly all Millenial employees (under the age of 25) expect to find an on-demand learning portal (similar to Google and YouTube) within their employer’s environment.

Now lets look at some learning strategies and outcomes closely associated with very specific on-the-job learning and professional development needs of employees and line managers in a bank.

  • The sharing and exchange of knowledge, experiences, and good practices leading sometimes to the development of refined knowledge and approaches
  • Analyzing and developing solutions or major modifications to ideas and practices to increase value for the Bank and for clients
  • Integrating efforts across disciplines and developing joint ideas and products
  • Evaluating and reflecting on acquired knowledge, developing alternatives to existing knowledge, and generating new knowledge
  • Developing common frameworks, language or knowledge sets for mutual trust and joint efforts in development
  • Fulfilling a social need to be generative or for self-actualization
  • Increasing commitment, passion and honesty in participating in world development

These outcomes in the latter set of bullets align pretty well with the requirements of the former set, don’t you agree?

I think that they do.

Would you be surprised to know that the second set of points come from a paper called An Evaluation of Non-Formal Learning in Professional Technical Networks, 2000-2001 by Sukai Prom-Jackson et al, published seven years ago in 2002?

Here’s the last thing about crazes. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Now, informal learning seems to have emerged as the shiny new toy. It fits so well with social networking, Web 2.0, and asynchronous media delivery platforms. It’s primary value seems to be as a “money-saving strategy” (i.e. cheap), rather than for its effectiveness as a learning modality – and undertaken correctly it is a very effective approach to workplace learning.

But it’s is not this year’s novelty. Just like The Watchmen, it has been around for much longer than you may suspect. But you would not know it’s there if you googled Informal Learning; the domain characterized as “informal learning” by Bersin & Associates (and other organizations) is more correctly called Non-Formal Learning. What’s more, there is a solid body of research on the topic going back over forty years. In this context, reviewing the current crop of articles on informal learning is akin to watching people actually trying to reinvent the wheel.

Informal – non-formal – learning is a troublesome concept in many ways: it inverts the role of mythic archetypes (learners transferring knowledge and expertise outside of the context of a formal environment and without instructors), and it espouses a certain non-conformist approach that until recently had a valueperceived to be inferior to traditional types of training.

Yet I would assert that it’s very awkwardness has contributed to its longevity (if not it’s appreciation in the mainstream training and development culture).

More…

______________________

References:

Bersin, J. (2009) Informal Learning becomes Formal. [Internet] Available from: http://joshbersin.com/2009/01/21/informal-learning-becomes-formal/ Accessed 15 March 2009

Pope, A. (1709) An Essay on Criticism.

Prom-Jackson, S., Bina Palmisano, M., Kategile Jackson, W., Novojilov, R., & Tena, M. (2002) An Evaluation of Non-Formal Learning in Professional Technical Networks, 2000-2001. WBI Evaluation Studies No. EG03-61, The World Bank Institute, Washington, DC.

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To-Learn Lists: September 2008 Learning Circuits Blog Big Question

September 4, 2008 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · Colley, Eraut, formal learning, Hodkinson, informal learning, lcbbq, learning and development, learning continuum, Malcolm, non-formal learning, organizational learning

This month’s Big Question emerged from a short essay written by James Collins in LEARNING JOURNEYS Top Management Experts Share Hard-Earned Lessons on Becoming Great Mentors and Leaders (2000). The author wrote:

A true learning person also has a “to-learn” list, and the items on that list carry at least as much weight in how one organizes his or her time as the to-do list.

More specifically, The Big Question is about:

  • If you have a to-learn list and are willing to share, and willing to share lcbbq how you work with that list, that would likely be helpful information.
  • As Knowledge Workers, work and learning are the same, so how does a to-learn list really differ from a to-do list? How are they different than undirected learning through work, blogging, conferences, etc.?
  • Are to-learn lists really important to have? Are they as important as what Jim Collins tells us?
  • Should they be captured? If so how?
  • How does a to-learn list impact something like a Learning Management System in a Workplace or Educational setting?
  • What skills, practices, behaviors do modern knowledge workers need around to-learn lists?

So it’s really a bunch of Big Questions this month. I’m not going to answer any of them, as I’m not so conceited as to think that you haven’t better things to do with your time, than to think about what I do with my time. However, the topic did get me thinking…

First of all, some context – I undertook some research on the text that the idea of the To-Learn List originated from. Learning Journeys contains 37 two- to three-page essays by

some of the best and most well known of human resources and organizational leaders and pioneers. From Stephen Cover to Dave Ulrich, from Marshall Goldsmith to Robert Eichenger, these individuals have done much to shape current thought in the areas of organizational development and leadership.

Amazon.com reviewer

As such, the text is orientated towards the needs of HR and organizational development people, rather than learning & development professionals. No harm: it’s always useful to get a different perspective (or to put it another way – a friend of mine reads a certain national newspaper because he “…likes to know what the enemy is thinking!”). One of the elements of the text that became apparent to me (from reading a part of the text using Amazon.com’s Look Inside functionality) was that the learning perspectives discussed would probably work better for people who are not professionally involved with training others: in this capacity, it indicated some potentially useful approaches on how to engage others in continuous learning, and pointed towards some avenues that might assist in achieving this objective.

As discussed in a previous blog entry on the E-Learning Curve, one of the central components of the impact of learning (and specifically the development of knowledge workers’ expertise in organizations) is the context within which the learning takes place. A central element of this context is the type or format of the learning taking place. In the literature, it is apparent that a dichotomy exists between the paradigms of formal, goal-directed training programs, and informal “learning at the watercooler” (Grebow, 2002); what Michael Eraut (2000) describes as incidental learning that takes place almost as a side effect of work: “it is difficult to make a clear distinction between formal and informal learning as there is often a crossover between the two” (McGivney, 1999, p.1). Another complexity in the discussion is where is non-formal learning located in relation to the diametric opposites?

I support Alan Rogers’ (2004) view that a “new paradigm” for learning exists, in which “most programmes will be partly formal and partly informal” going from formal to informal and from informal to formal in both directions along a continuum (see Figure 1) . “Both forms of education are important elements in the total learning experience” (looking again at non-formal and informal education – towards a new paradigm, 2004).


Figure 1 the Learning Continuum

Similarly, Hodkinson and Hodkinson argue that focusing on the extent to which learning is planned and intentional may be a way of by-passing the distinction between formal, non-formal and informal altogether.” (Colley, Hodkinson & Malcolm, 2002).

So, to return to the topic, my To-Learn List has one entry: to learn.

I would categorize myself as a “learnivore” – I continually acquire new knowledge and information through my Web-, book-, podcast-, and presentation reading, blogging (reading and writing), academic study and research, and work-based learning-related tasks. These activities are drivers for the information I try to take on board in my attempts to enhance my skills, abilities, and expertise.

_____________

References:

Colley, Hodkinson, Malcolm (2002) non-formal learning: mapping the conceptual terrain. a consultation report [Internet] Available from: http://www.infed.org/archives/e-texts/colley_informal_learning.htm [Accessed 28th January 2008]
Coombs, P. (1968) The World Educational Crisis, New York, Oxford University Press.

Eraut, M. (2000) Non-formal learning, implicit learning and tacit knowledge, in F. Coffield (Ed) The Necessity of Informal Learning: Policy Press. Bristol

Goldsmith, M. Kaye, B. Shelton, K (eds.) (2000) LEARNING JOURNEYS Top Management Experts Share Hard-Earned Lessons on Becoming Great Mentors and Leaders. Davies-Black Publishing

Grebow, D. (2002) At the Water Cooler of Learning [Internet] Available from: http://agelesslearner.com/articles/watercooler_dgrebow_tc600.html [Accessed 30th January 2008]

McGivney, V. (1999) Informal learning in the community: a trigger for change and development NIACE. Leicester.

Rogers, A. (2004) Looking again at non-formal and informal education – towards a new paradigm [Internet] Available from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/non_formal_paradigm.htm [Accessed 30th January 2008]

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To-Learn Lists: September 2008 Learning Circuits Blog Big Question

September 4, 2008 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · Colley, Eraut, formal learning, Hodkinson, informal learning, lcbbq, learning and development, learning continuum, Malcolm, non-formal learning, organizational learning

This month’s Learning Circuits Blog Big Question emerged from a short essay written by James Collins in LEARNING JOURNEYS Top Management Experts Share Hard-Earned Lessons on Becoming Great Mentors and Leaders. The author wrote:

A true learning person also has a “to-learn” list, and the items on that list carry at least as much weight in how one organizes his or her time as the to-do list.

More specifically, The Big Question is about:

  • If you have a to-learn list and are willing to share, and willing to share lcbbq how you work with that list, that would likely be helpful information.
  • As Knowledge Workers, work and learning are the same, so how does a to-learn list really differ from a to-do list? How are they different than undirected learning through work, blogging, conferences, etc.?
  • Are to-learn lists really important to have? Are they as important as what Jim Collins tells us?
  • Should they be captured? If so how?
  • How does a to-learn list impact something like a Learning Management System in a Workplace or Educational setting?
  • What skills, practices, behaviors do modern knowledge workers need around to-learn lists?

So it’s really a bunch of Big Questions this month. I’m not going to answer any of them.

First of all, some context – I undertook some research on the text that the idea of the To-Learn List originated from. Learning Journeys contains 37 two- to three-page essays by

some of the best and most well known of human resources and organizational leaders and pioneers. From Stephen Cover to Dave Ulrich, from Marshall Goldsmith to Robert Eichenger, these individuals have done much to shape current thought in the areas of organizational development and leadership.

Amazon.com reviewer

As such, the text is orientated towards the needs of HR and organizational development people, rather than learning & development professionals. No harm: it’s always useful to get a different perspective (or to put it another way – a friend of mine reads a certain national newspaper because he “…likes to know what the enemy is thinking!”). One of the elements of the text that became apparent to me (from reading a part of the text using Amazon.com’s Look Inside functionality) was that the learning perspectives discussed would probably work better for people who are not professionally involved with training others: in this capacity, it indicated some potentially useful approaches on how to engage others in continuous learning, and pointed towards some avenues that might assist in achieving this objective.

As discussed in a previous blog entry on the E-Learning Curve, one of the central components of the impact of learning (and specifically the development of knowledge workers’ expertise in organizations) is the context within which the learning takes place. A central element of this context is the type or format of the learning taking place. In the literature, it is apparent that a dichotomy exists between the paradigms of formal, goal-directed training programs, and informal “learning at the watercooler” (Grebow, 2002); what Michael Eraut (2000) describes as incidental learning that takes place almost as a side effect of work: “it is difficult to make a clear distinction between formal and informal learning as there is often a crossover between the two” (McGivney, 1999, p.1). Another complexity in the discussion is where is non-formal learning located in relation to the diametric opposites?

I support Alan Rogers’ (2004) view that a “new paradigm” for learning exists, in which “most programmes will be partly formal and partly informal” going from formal to informal and from informal to formal in both directions along a continuum (see Figure 1) . “Both forms of education are important elements in the total learning experience” (looking again at non-formal and informal education – towards a new paradigm, 2004).


Figure 1 the Learning Continuum

Similarly, Hodkinson and Hodkinson argue that focusing on the extent to which learning is planned and intentional may be a way of by-passing the distinction between formal, non-formal and informal altogether.” (Colley, Hodkinson & Malcolm, 2002).

Sp, to return to the topic, my To-Learn List has one entry: to learn.

I would categorize myself as a “learnivore” – I continually acquire new knowledge and information through my Web-, book-, podcast-, and presentation reading, blogging (reading and writing), academic study and research, and work-based learning-related tasks. These activities are drivers for the information I to take on board in my attempts to enhance my skills, abilities, and expertise.

_____________

References:

Colley, Hodkinson, Malcolm (2002) non-formal learning: mapping the conceptual terrain. a consultation report [Internet] Available from: http://www.infed.org/archives/e-texts/colley_informal_learning.htm [Accessed 28th January 2008]
Coombs, P. (1968) The World Educational Crisis, New York, Oxford University Press.

Eraut, M. (2000) Non-formal learning, implicit learning and tacit knowledge, in F. Coffield (Ed) The Necessity of Informal Learning: Policy Press. Bristol

Goldsmith, M. Kaye, B. Shelton, K (eds.) (2000) LEARNING JOURNEYS Top Management Experts Share Hard-Earned Lessons on Becoming Great Mentors and Leaders. Davies-Black Publishing

Grebow, D. (2002) At the Water Cooler of Learning [Internet] Available from: http://agelesslearner.com/articles/watercooler_dgrebow_tc600.html [Accessed 30th January 2008]

McGivney, V. (1999) Informal learning in the community: a trigger for change and development NIACE. Leicester.

Rogers, A. (2004) Looking again at non-formal and informal education – towards a new paradigm [Internet] Available from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/non_formal_paradigm.htm [Accessed 30th January 2008]

[Read more →]