Excellent summary of Learning 2.0 offerings

Haza has provided a terrific summary of what Web 2.0. offerings (blogs, wikis, podcasting, rss feeds, etc.) can bring to an informal and more democratic learning solutions.


It occurs to me often that within a learning environment that cherishes and values the ‘formal’ training experience, it’s very difficult to get people to understand or embrace these concepts and how they apply to learning:  democratic and informal.

I believe that the difficulty comes from a number of assumptions and values that have been built around the way “learning should happen.” Some of these assumptions aren’t just corporate learning environment related, their origins link back into the world of academia.  Part of my training in college was to determine what the causes of argument against a position were and then attempt to correct or reverse them. For now I only have the time to list a few here so I will start with two. Also, I’d like to save my counter argument against these for another post.

  • Democracy in learning –  assumption that countersThe teacher/instructor or expert is the center of the learning environment – not the Student or end user.
    • The teacher is the boss and must run the show
    • The learner/student must be passive and just soak information in rather than learn it actively
    • Only experts can provide this information not peers
  • Informal learning- assumption that counters- You cannot measure or track informal learning. In corporate training much of our focus has been on evaluation, we must be able to measure that we’re doing our job and that learning is happening. 
    • This is why we do Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, etc. evaluations
    • This is why we count butts in seats or how many courses/learning interventions we do*
    • Informal learning maybe be harder to evaluate for performance success (except if you are attributing all performance behaviors to the informal learning environment that you’ve set  up – i.e. performance behaviors are happening…. period)

I also have a hunch that the very nature of corporate life implies ‘the formal.’  Naturally, saying things are informal or even organic may go counter to the corporate grain.  Jay Cross notes that his message about “informal learning” found either a hot or cold reception from the audience at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference.

I believe that its worth exploring the application of the “informal” and “democratic” to learning environments. However, I think we need to understand why these same concepts may not be adopted by members “the Body.”   Jay Cross draws the analogy of application of “informal learning” as being similar to landscaping a garden.   I’m going to draw out this analogy a little further and suggest that some of the counter-assumptions against the informal/democratic development of learning environments are rocks or items in the garden.  As a gardener you can do one of two things:

  1. Pull the rocks out
  2. If the rocks are too big, build your landscape around them (or overcome the rocks)


* Which by the way can be part of the problem if we are creating training just to create training.  This is often not an intentional move, but sometimes an unintended consequence if your system rewards you for accomplishing things by the number rather than by the actual effect or effect on quality


2 Responses to “Excellent summary of Learning 2.0 offerings”

  1. 1 Rory February 15, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Great post – something that I’ve been thinking about (some might say ranting about) recently. What has your experience been regarding those who most object to informal / democratic learning?
    I’m reminded of a statement by one of my mentors a few years back: “For all of our talking about innovation and creativity, we ISD’ers seem to be the last ones to take our own advice.” … As you can probably tell, I’m of the mind that my experience (in the corporate world) is that we folks ‘in the biz’ tend to be the most difficult to come to the light side …

  2. 2 nkilkenny February 15, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Perhaps that’s because we operate primarily through numbers and indicators. Don’t get me wrong I believe that tracking and measuring things is crucial to understanding of what, how, how goood etc.. However, it would be refreshing to find a balance somewhere. I believe in Informal Learning, I want it to take root, but I feel that inherently it may be harder for people in the corporate world to adopt it unless you have a CEO/ and Chief Learning Officer who drive the value of truly creating a learning environment for “Knowledge Workers.”

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