Friday, August 5, 2016

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

In laying out a proposal for the organizational structure for global E-Learning communities, it is essential that we do not forget the changed relationship between business organizations and education. In this age of knowledge, technology and learning, it is how we engage our employees from the CEO to the lowest labourer in life-long learning that will in fact determine the future health of a company and establish its place in the global connected economy. It is no accident that companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft are where they are in the global economy. These organizations have established learning environments that go beyond "PowerPoint slide presentation days".

  Looking at the Google Learning Environment, there are some important points that they incorporate that truly reflects the priority that they place on engaging employees in learning.

Credit: Manpreet Kaur

Credit: Manpreet Kaur


 In reading articles on current E-Learning and business organization practices, there are still many who unfortunately still believe in "quick fixes and tweaks" in order to add E-Learning components to their business learning culture. Often, the articles have titles such as "10 Steps to Engaging Employees in E-Learning" or " 3 Easy Steps to Initiating Blended Learning in Your Organization". It is always important to recognize that the motives behind such quick fixes may not be the noble motive of helping you "not waste time by re-creating the wheel". What they don't seem to understand is that such practices really don't cut it because what is required is a whole new mindset that represents a paradigm shift that fits with 21st century realities. It really requires a re-designed environment.

"This is really the point of the need to shift from an entrenched consumerism mindset to one that will nurture and encourage global learning communities with a noted emphasis on "communities". This is what my proposed organizational structure is about!"

Cross Disciplinary Research and Mentor Networks in the Global Learning Community

Global Learning Community
 [Note: Change Global E-Learning Hub to Global E-Learning Portal]

There are two main barriers to making the paradigm shift for the learning cultures of business organizations. First there is a needed shift in how we look at complex real world problems. In our world up to this point, organizations have been driven to create what I would term as "guarded silos of knowledge". This intellectual "protectionism" runs contrary to one of our greatest needs in attempting to effectively come up with solutions to complex real world problems that being to collaborate effectively on a global scale and come up with solutions. 

"In our various disciplines, thanks to technology, knowledge and skillsets have grown and advanced exponentially but what we have not outgrown is a 'sandbox mindset' which basically says that this is mine and I am not going to share with the greater community"

The problems that we now face require that we use our knowledge and skillsets in a collaborative fashion because what we face impacts everybody. The problems require a cross disciplinary collaborative analysis and solution. Secondly,this runs contrary to how the education system has prepared individuals to become contributing members of society because they have been repeatedly trained by sending them from one "subject silo" to another in an assembly line fashion. It is encouraging that the university research communities are starting to recognize the benefits of cross disciplinary research and some education systems, such as Finland's system, are making the necessary paradigm shift.

So, what is different about this network and how does it benefit business? The following would describe it:
  • This is the network that is guided by SME's in a role where rather than being the "sage on the stage", they become the "guide on the side". Rather than being the expert that provides content to aid the instructional designer in creating learning experiences, they become mentors who guide employees in developing skillsets involving learning how to think in an online environment. As mentors they help employees establish relationships with organizations on the web that will allow them to be effective problem solvers.
  • The SME's also provide a "technology sandbox" where everybody shares and tests out new technology and skillsets. This "sandbox" is accessible 24/7 so that employees can use their time of informal learning in a creative and innovative manner.
  • The activities and new research is shared with the learning portal as updates on what is going on. It also shares opportunities for cross disciplinary research.
Buckminister Fuller has much to say when it comes to systems thinking, learning and innovation. The following quote is the path I am on and I think that this is the type of thinking that entrepreneurs and innovators need to consider:
 In dealing with the last segment of the organization of a global learning community in the next post, an important quote comes to mind for us to think about.... 

Next...The Global Higher Education and Teacher Mentoring Network

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