In the Learning Circuits Blog, Tony Karrer poses this month’s Big Question…
Don’t we have to conclude that learning professionals must be literate in these things?
If so, then what should learning professionals do to become literate?
I personally see this as much bigger. Work Literacy is trying to figure out how knowledge workers can be helped to improve their skills to take advantage of things like social media and new forms of informal learning. This leads me to …
Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?
Shouldn’t they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?
And then shouldn’t the learning organization become a driver for the organization?
And like in the world of libraries don’t we need to market ourselves in this capacity?
The short answer is yes.
A doctor can’t ignore the recent advances in the treatment of diseases and still call himself a good doctor… A tax accountant can’t pretend that new laws won’t impact her clients’ tax liabilities if she wants to keep her clients… An Olympic-level swimmer can’t shrug off changes in swimsuit design that are helping his competitors surge ahead if he wants to win a medal… Duh! If a learning professional wants to be a thought leader in his or her organization around how to support learning in the workplace, he or she cannot be illiterate in these new technologies.
We’ve seen it happen over and over again. Too often, it isn’t the learning professionals who take the lead. A senior business leader sees some cool learning technology and wants some of that for his organization, and client-focused employees scramble to build a solution using the technology. While the solution has bells and whistles, it misses the mark… and it misses the mark because no one in the lead understood what was really necessary for that technology to support learning.
We’re at it again, I fear. As learning professionals, not only do we have to come up to speed on the technologies, we have to develop a clearer understanding of how these 2.0 technologies can be used to support learning. Otherwise, our organizations will stumble, and we’ll wind up behind instead of ahead.
Personally, I’m only on the grade-school literacy level here… The best piece of advice that I’ve received – and taken – is to start to experiment with the technologies myself. So I write a blog, I use Delicious as a bookmarking tool, I used a wiki to do online collaboration, I have Pageflakes and Bloglines aggregators. My organization hasn’t made these kinds of tools widely available inside the firewall (yet), but I’ve used them for personal learning and for my adjunct faculty work. These experiments have helped me to understand how the technology works (and doesn’t work) and will help me to envision how these can be used to support specific learning needs. These efforts will help me to educate my coworkers and my students so that they can be both excited by the possibilities and savvy in the nuances that make them effective learning tools.
But I recognize that I need to get better faster. I’ve been advocating for a transition from instructional design to learning environment design (see this page, and these posts for more) and these technologies make up a large portion of an effective learning environment for a lot of situations. I realize, too, that tt isn’t just a matter of building resources in these new formats… many of our learners are not savvy in these tools either, and we have to help them learn how to learn in a whole new way. (See earlier post for additional thoughts in this regard.) We’re supposed to be learning leaders, for heaven’s sake! Should we not lead the way here? A learning professional who is not savvy in these tools won’t be able to be a leader for much longer.