Survival of the Fittest Learner

Learner centered or learner driven models of education engage the learner. However, it’s fair to say that not all learners are the same, and the learner-driven model may not work well for others. Some learners will self-initiate learning and others will not. Some learn fairly well in a crisply structured and linear learning environment, some do not. Some learners need a combination of both structure and lack of structure to learn effectively. Still, it seems that any organization that espouses a culture of self-education and exploration is an advantage over those that do not care about growing their people.

I’ve been a sporadic reader of Jay Cross’s blog Informal Learning as I feel very strongly about the possibilities of fostering a true learning/networked culture in any organization. Cross posted a recent presentation on his blog. Though I wish I had been present to hear the speech and commentary that accompanied these slides, as always he presents visuals that are both rich in imagery and are thought-provoking. I guess I could open Internet Explorer and view it (see the post on the Informal Learning Blog), but lately using IE makes me itch.

I am especially drawn to this slide (Slide 14) of the presentation, which basically communicates: If you cannot learn to adapt, you die (or become obsolete).

http://www.slideshare.net/jaycross/free-range-learning-infinite-chickenhouse/14

Given any new situation of change (change of demographics, changes in technology, environmental change, market shift, etc.), unless you learn to adapt you become unable to function in the newly changed environment.

Any leader of any body of more than several individuals whether this be a group, school, community, company, town, or country, should have the foresight to understand which changes will really impact his or her people. * Good leaders know the value of having well-educated and informed self-learners beneath them.

*Good leaders have their ear open to their people and know how to spot those who can inform them properly.

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3 Responses to “Survival of the Fittest Learner”


  1. 1 Christy Tucker June 22, 2007 at 2:07 am

    Your comment about IE making you itch made Dave and me laugh. 🙂

    I do like this idea of self-driven learners in times of change.

    One of the issues, I think, is that the K-12 education system tends to beat the desire to learn out of people. Think about how excited everyone was in kindergarten to learn everything, then compare that to the level of excitement by even third or fourth grade. There are exceptions, of course, but the overall level of excitement has certainly dropped. The education system is not really set up to train people to be self-driven learners who learn what they’re passionate about.

    The question, of course, is then what do we do about it. I’m not sure that I have a good answer for that. Certainly more active learning and discovery learning has to make some difference, but is that enough? And how can any school district really implement big changes with the NCLB tests looming over them?

  2. 2 Rupa June 22, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Nice article!

    Being new to Technical Writing, my job demanded me to learn so many things including new technology and new authoring tools in a short time.

    I must tell you I learnt all of these on my own through online tutorials and learning material.

    This has really helped me to learn very well without being dependent on anyone else.

    When you are on job you need to keep learning and this the only way you can grow. For this you need to be self-driven.:)

  3. 3 nkilkenny June 22, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Christy and Rupa. In America and Britain, schools and districts must reach targeted test score goals. Hence, teachers teach to tests. So what exactly does that do to the whole idea of ‘constructivism’ in learning? And I hear you, Rupa, I think learnt most of my web design and some programming skills from tutorials online, from examples, and from building my own stuff. Despite the fact that education system continues to (for lack of better words) suck in the modern western world, people still have the amazing internet to make up for their education system, but if you do not have access to tech or you don’t even know how to start using the net, you’re still at a disadvantage. Even if you have cheap hardware and web-based software, you still need to have internet access and that costs money unless you’re using public wireless. Hopefully, the US government will not start taxing or regulating this access more.


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