Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Race to Develop the Future of E-Learning Communities--Part IV

In the previous post, the suggestion was made that the 70-20-10 framework for learning that many learning cultures in business organizations adhere to, may not be giving enough notice to the growing impact of informal learning. With the growth in the availability of WiFi zones in many sectors of our society from the coffee shop to the place where you have your automobile serviced, more and more opportunities are open outside the walls of the place of employment to personalize learning. The arrival of mobile learning technology combined with learning modules in many subject areas now allow learning to take place anytime and anywhere. The opportunities to make learning adapt to personal daily schedules are increasing weekly. As attractive as this sounds, it also causes us to ask some sobering questions such as:

" Are learners ready to delve into such an environment without the needed tools to adapt?"

" Will this type of learning make learners superficially knowledgeable in many subject areas but be masters of none in any sustained depth?"

 Gibbon's quote emphasizes the dilemma that we face in regards to informal learning. If the "winds" and the "waves" represent disruptive change in education, then only those who are best equipped to navigate into these unknown waters will be able to not only enrich their own learning but more importantly contribute solutions to the powerful real world problems that we presently face that are in fact destabilizing our civilizations. We do not need learners who have been shaped and now defined to be masters of superficial knowledge or trivia. We do need learners who are thoughtfully engaged to understand in depth. Learning needs to be deep, collaborative and sustained or pervasive. In other words we need to create a sense of community in the online world.

It is in the best interests of a business organization to develop a learning community for its employees from the CEO down to the lowest level employee level for the following reasons:

  • Innovation development within the learning culture of  a business can only develop if the employees are provided with an environment that it encourages creative and innovative thinking. We know from the ways and reasons adults seek learning opportunities that it is really only meaningful to them if it helps them advance in the role they have within the organization.
  • Creating such an environment that is available to employees when they are not working helps combat the mindset of superficial sampling of  areas of knowledge without learning anything in depth. When employees are provided with a defined task, they can be directed to the community to help arrive at a solution.
  • Creating such an environment will promote collaboration among employees and in doing so, create unity and support of the company brand
  • Creating such a community will provide a forum for employees to present and defend innovative ideas before decision makers. This is a "win-win" scenario because communication is more open between employees and decision makers and decision makers are able to map out the potential talents within their work force that they were not aware of before. In an age of learning and the growth of technology, the greatest assets that an organization has lies in the intellectual capital found in the work force.
  • Creating such a community also can include a "technology sandbox" where employees can go at any time to try out new technologies or web tools that might help them perform their roles in a smarter fashion.

The Path of Pervasive Learning

If we are to promote the important skillsets in employees that will help the business organization grow in a globally connected workplace, the mindset of thoughtful engagement or deeper pervasive learning in an online environment needs to be a defining characteristic in advising learners how to use their informal learning time.

"Make the company learning community be the one place where employees want to spend their time of informal learning."

 This will require the identification and coordination of the most important elements in informal learning. There is also the question of what part formal learning will play in this scheme. We might see a radical change in the 70-20-10 framework especially if we really want to encourage and nurture innovative thinking within the organization. This framework will have to become more fluid. I believe that Charles Jennings would agree with this given the seismic changes occurring in the growth of knowledge and technology.

Credit: Jessie Chuang
Right now, with regards to the life-cycle of online communities we are not doing as well as we could if we weren't shackled to an outdated purpose and model for education.

For a learning culture of a business organization, there is a need to create an online community that is devoted to the needs of developing the learning profiles of all members of the organization. It needs to be a series of networks that make up a learning community that can be reached by learners within the business organization through a global learning portal. Remember, that in  the previous posts this was divided into 6 global portal zones.

Next post ....I will provide and describe the networks relevant to business that would make up the global learning community

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