Fact: the world is full of useful (and useless) information. If finding the answer to something is important to us, how do we seek to gain that new knowledge? I’ve often been struck by the ‘blend’ between the formal and informal ways of quickly getting hold of what we want (or need) to know. Let’s take our TV habits as an analogy of learning in practice.
I fancy an evening in front of the TV but I don’t know what’s on. How do I find out? Similar to a high proportion of TV-watchers (around 95% if my rudimentary straw poll of colleagues is accurate) I flick through the TV listings. For the moment, please tag this in your mind as a ‘formal’ learning resource, designed as a summary for consumers. I’m now armed with the information I want and can make an informed viewing choice.
I tune into my chosen programme and see an actor whose face is familiar. “I’ve seen him in something else recently,” I say, interrupting the people watching TV with me. This previous appearance starts to gnaw at me. But now the TV listings are unlikely to be much use. Those ‘formal’ learning resources that helped me find out what was on TV tonight are unlikely to contain highly contextual information such as, “For the benefit of Gary Marlow, the cop chasing the two people in the black sports car played the bad guy in Episode 3 of the previous series of Silent Witness.”
…vs social and collaborative learning
The best the TV listings can offer me is the actor’s name, so I now turn my back on the ‘formal’ in favour of the ‘informal’. What are my options? My first port of call is the people around me. We are a social species who often choose to help one another. Maddeningly, they don’t know, so I launch myself into multi-tasking mode. While still watching the TV, I Google the actor’s name, post a Facebook update, and Tweet his picture to see if anyone out there can help me. I even call my mum because tacit knowledge tells me she’s probably watching the same programme. I am using different networks of people to find the answer.
Join the debate: Tell us about your experiences of social and collaborative learning
My point here is to look at this in the context our own world of Learning & Development.
1. How free are your people to learn socially and collaboratively when they are at work?
2. How does your organisation nurture and facilitate social and collaborative learning? Do you actively stimulate or encourage it, or is there more emphasis on the provision of ‘formal’ learning?
3. Does social and collaborative learning spark a reactionary response amongst your business leaders?
4. What advice would you give about tackling an attitude that seeks to limit what – and how – people learn?
Here at Kallidus, we would welcome your comments, thoughts and observations on this topic. Who knows, we might be able to call it social and collaborative learning!