Informal Learning blather

January 21, 2005

The world is our classroom. Say the word “learning” and people think of school. But at least 80% of our learning takes place outside of the classroom or the training session.

Personal learning flies under the radar. No one takes attendance, for there’s no class schedule. In fact, there aren’t any classes. There are no grades, for success in life is the measure of how well we learn. There’s no graduation, for learning is forever.

Want to see who’s in charge of this learning? Look in the mirror. We are all responsible for our own learning.

We are living amid a global plague of information sickness. Victims have the sensation of being buried under relentless waves of things to learn, email, news, phone calls, meetings, and general information overload. Symptoms include frustration, anxiety, insomnia, hand-wringing, decreased self esteem, short attention span, and sociopathic behavior. Information sickness wipes out slack time, vacations, family time, reflection, and thinking for the long term. Individuals in the clutches of information sickness succomb to stress-related disease. Organizations suffer lower performance, lack of focus, diminished customer service, turnover, poor morale, job satisfaction, and an inability to achieve organizational objectives.

In most cultures, the tallest buildings house the dominant institutions, be they castles or cathedrals or capitals. Today’s skylines are dominated by office towers that house businesses. Business organizations are the prime innovators in our economy. Business provides many tools that we individuals can adopt. Hence, we have personal KM, personal cost/benefit analysis, and personal applications of the 80/20 rule.

This business/individual transference cuts both ways. Like all institutions, businesses calcify over time, getting stuck in ruts when they should be switching to new roads. Individuals can change direction without becoming mired in bureaucracy and outdated policies. The agile business must champion spontaneous individual learning and decision-making, for as the world grows more complex, workers will be driven by values, not rules.

Meta. Forest/trees. Events/process.

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