I am one of a disappearing breed of people who actually make new year’s resolutions. At this time of year, we’re doing business planning and performance appraisals at work; my birthday rolls around again; the year comes to a close; and I am drawn to looking back, envisioning the future, and making a new plan. As I embark on restrategizing my commitments for 2009, I have the contents of this blog to remind me of insights I gained along this year’s journey.
Reading over all of my 2008 posts… here’s what I want to include in my thought process at year’s end:
> Find ways to promote and engage in collaboration and reflection in learning, regardless of the tools used to enable these activities.
We spend a lot of time educating designers and trainers on instructional techniques, and we need to spend as much effort in helping them to understand how learning occurs through collaboration and reflection. Collaboration provides an environment for learning; it provides fertile ground for the co-creation of knowledge and skill; it promotes creativity; and it produces better outcomes. Reflection is at the core of learning; it allows us to process and solidify what we’ve learned, and raises the questions for future learning. From a learning environment design perspective, collaboration and reflection are a lot more difficult to enable and to control, but well worth the effort. Collaboration and reflection are as important for my own learning as they are as strategies for promoting learning in others.
> Contine to grow my own expertise in learning, and find more ways to support the development of that expertise among colleagues and students.
The source of our value in organizations is that we are the experts in learning. To paraphrase what I said in July: Our contribution as learning professionals is to understand: the depth of knowledge and skill required, how that knowledge and skill is used to produce desired performance, and how that knowledge and skill can be obtained and maintained effectively and efficiently in a constantly changing environment. That is a HUGE charge for all of us. But as a learning leader at work and as a professor in graduate programs, it is both possible and obligatory for me to make a concerted effort to develop learning professionals into true experts. How to best do that is the interesting question.
> Manage the learning function as a creative, collaboraive endeavor.
We’ve spent more time managing the learning function as a business than managing it as a creative enterprise. We need a little more of Tom Peter’s vision of enterprise – vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial, maximizing concerted human potential, wholeheartedly in service. And we need to take a page out of the Pixar handbook and find a way to manage creative talent to work together to produce highly effective solutions. These ideas imply changes in how we manage process and people… and figuring out exactly what and how should be on my agenda.
> Enable the use of web 2.0 tools (and later generations) to support learning in organizations.
Cutting through all the hype, it is abundantly clear that we have an explosion of potential tools for learning in a web-enabled world. The processes they enable – access to information, connectivity with experts and peers, reflection and feedback, collaboration – have been around forever as learning processes, but that hasn’t made the leap into using these new tools to effectively support learning in organizations. The more efficient and effective strategy, I think, is to help people learn how to learn using these tools, since the tools and their actual functionality change so quickly.
> Continue to develop the concept of learning environment design.
I wrote a lot of posts on Learning Environment Design, responded to feedback and lessons from experience, and wrote a published article on the subject. I continue to be convinced that learning professionals need to dramatically expand their toolkits for supporting learning (if they haven’t done so already) and I think that Learning Environment Design is a start for helping them to think in that direction. There is much more to be experimented with and fleshed out, though, and I have plenty of upcoming opportunities to do so.
> Keep my “to-learn” list fresh and active.
I really do have a set of resolutions – “commitments” – and an active to-learn list, and both have been enormously helpful to me. I have found that reading is my learning mode of choice, and I want to put some more active experimentation and critical reflection in the mix in the coming year.
“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” – Abagail Adams