Changing Paradigm of Learning


There is an interesting conversation with Marc Rosenberg … about the way the idea of learning is changing. Actually, i would say that this is not so much about how learning is changing, but rather, how we are able to understand how learning is changing in the organizational context. This probably has more to do with learning managers having better tools to be able to address learning needs at a number of different levels.

Lets look at it two ways. Today, a lot of organizations have either moved their learning framework towards a blended learning approach, or are in the process of doing that. This is based on the understanding that people could learn either in a classroom, with learning being driven by a trainer, or they could learn alone, and these approaches could be integrated into one to be able to create an experience of learning which is independant of the learning method. This also has to do with training budgets and getting people away from their work for long enough time to attend training programs. This, though, is only one side of the learning scenario.

Another aspect of the learning scenario which is being seen more and more as the new way of learning is informal learning. This, though, like i said, is more to do with us understanding this, rather than this being a new process. Let me take an example. Back in college, there were classrooms where we studied subjects where information was given to us by the learned Professors, and we tried to cope with it as best as we could (not spectacularly, i would have to say, but nevertheless, most of us managed). This was supplemented by endless hours of slogging on one’s own (yeah, right! i can hear quite a few folks say, but maybe we could ignore those hooting). A third way of learning (used as a desperate measure, the night before the end-semesters) was when the course for the exam the next day would be divided into a group of friends, each of us would study some part of the course, and teach it to the rest (which essentially meant endless cigarettes and mugging, but thats beside the point). Hmm … sounds like social learning, if you ask me.

What is important here is that as learning professionals we need to understand that people learn from formal, structured methods, while at the same time, learning from the informal methods which have been around for quite a while. This, i feel, is where the ideas of Training and KM come into close contact with each other. KM, with the understanding that knowledge sharing is essentially a social process, being used in conjunction with the Training idea of structure being provided to guide the learning process. I feel the two need to go in conjunction. Some of the social media platforms can add value to the trianing paradigm through creating the peer-learning idea for people attending trainings. More engagement can be created with learners both before and after the training, enabling to build a connect with co-learners, in the shared context of the learning process they are part of, which is important for any kind of knowledge sharing.

What i found particularly interesting was:

… Precious classroom time is allocated more to teamwork, problem solving, creativity and rapid response to critical issues. Trainers will have to embrace much more of a facilitation and coaching role, and instructional designers will have to get used to less predictable course content and more real-time modifications to make courses more relevant and valuable.

Why this is interesting is because i feel this brings out the essence of how informal and formal learning can be brought together to create a more effective learning experience. People learn on their own, or in groups, and then come together for a discussion-centric training, with the trainer being more the moderator for the discussion, initiating, guiding, moderating, orchestrating the discussion, and chipping in from time to time to participate in the discussion, too. What is even more interesting is that instructional designers need to get used to creating courseware which keeps changing every time a training a delivered. This again is not new. When i used to train, i used to skip slides from the ppt to adapt it to the discussion that would be going on in the class. This is something which probably becomes more and more important in the scenario we are talking about here. Social media can play an important role here, and this is not just about within the classroom, but outside it, too.

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