Tuesday, July 1

Lead the Charge?

I'm trying something a little different this month. I'm taking a bit more of a position in the question (maybe you could even call it a rant). I'm hoping this will spark some discussion ...

Karl Fisch - wrote the Edublog post of the year in 2007 with Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher? - a wonderful post that concluded with:
In the first few years of the 21st century, you can still be successful if you’re technologically illiterate, but it’s getting harder (and those that are literate have many more opportunities available to them). And by the end of the next decade, I think there will be very little chance of success for those that are technology illiterate.

In order to teach it, we have to do it. How can we teach this to kids, how can we model it, if we aren’t literate ourselves? You need to experience this, you need to explore right along with your students. You need to experience the tools they’ll be using in the 21st century, developing your own networks in parallel with your students. You need to demonstrate continual learning, lifelong learning – for your students, or you will continue to teach your students how to be successful in an age that no longer exists.
Back in March - we asked about the Scope of Learning Responsibility and received a lot of response. Most (if not all) respondents felt that we have fairly broad responsibilities that go beyond formal learning opportunities.

So, if we have responsibility for informal learning, social learning, eLearning 2.0, long tail learning, etc. then ...
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?
To me, these are substantial issues facing all learning organizations and workplace learning professionals. It is THE big question today. It represents a shift in responsibility. A revolution in workplace learning. We can't be training organizations. We must become learning organizations. As learning professionals, we must lead the charge by being in front.

How to Respond:

Option 1 - Simply put your thoughts in a comment

Option 2 -

Step 1 - Post in your blog (please link to this post).
Step 2 - Put a comment in this blog with an HTML ready link that I can simply copy and paste (an HTML anchor tag). I will only copy and past, thus, I would also recommend you include your NAME immediately before your link. So, it should look like:

Tony Karrer - Safety Training Design

or you could also include your blog name with something like:

Tony Karrer - Safety Training Design : eLearning Technology

Posts So Far:


Anonymous said...

The Learning Revolution: Where have all the leaders gone?

Harold Jarche said...

I talked about this Skills 2.0:

"Today, active involvement in informal learning, particularly through web-based communities, is key to remaining professional and creative in a field. Being a learning professional in a Web 2.0 world is becoming more about your network than your current knowledge."

Anonymous said...

Gina Minks: Adventures in Corporate Education What Competencies do Knowledge Workers Need?

Clark said...

Clark Quinn - Learnlets: Lead the Charge?

Unknown said...

What I find challenging in a Web 2.0 world is keeping up. A day off can leave you decades behind.

Anonymous said...

My (slightly off-topic) contribution is called Going off half-cocked

Tony Karrer said...

Great quote - taking a day off leaves you a decade behind ... it's not quite that extreme, but it's quite true that people cannot learn how to learn in school and have that be the only mechanisms through the rest of their life.

Tony Karrer said...

Wendy in her response says -

"Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches provides more tools in the toolbox. Just because we have the tool doesn't necessarily mean it is the best one for that job."

This is a great point - just because there are new was to work and learn doesn't mean that these are always applicable.

However, I would claim that most (if not all) knowledge workers have skill gaps around the use of these approaches and it is the responsibility of learning professionals to look to close those gaps. It may not apply on every project, but it does apply quite often.

Anonymous said...

The question now becomes: How do I effectively close my “GAPS” as a learning professional?
With the advancement of technology in lightning speed, as soon as one delivery method is capsulated it becomes obsolete. Is it possible to keep up? - Lee

Unknown said...

Stephen Lahanas - Welcome to The Revolution

Closed World said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Closed World said...

Here's my response.
Shilpa Patwardhan: Would you trust a firefighter who did not know how to fight fire?

Anonymous said...

Catherine Lombardozzi - The short answer is yes

Anonymous said...

Shilpa Patwardhan Statement: "Learning professionals SHOULD lead the charge around new workplace literacies AND should learn first and then help others in the organization learn. If we do not then we go the dinosaur way…"

Sure ... learn first than share... sounds ideal!!!
But learning is so dynamic and is not always linear, especially with the rapid movement of technology. As learning professionals we do not always have the luxury of separating the process of learning. There is always a new training platform and to stay competitive, especially as an independent consultant, I get to learn as I go.

Michael Hanley said...

The E-Learning Curve - Web 2.0 technologies and learning professionals' opportunities and challenges

"Organizations function best when the organization's business goals are aligned with their learning goals; ideally the two should support and drive each other. If learning professionals can persuade the executive team that a Learning organization is an Earning organization, then they will usually receive the support to operationalize innovative learning initiatives."

Anonymous said...

Kerry McGuire - Live and Learn: What's the real question?

Anonymous said...

Kevin Shadix - There's no "I" in "We."

Tony Karrer said...

Fantastic rewrite (or additional) questions by Kerry:

* How do we help people recognize the value of social connectedness in the workplace?

* And, how do we support them on that journey?

I personally have mixed feelings about a focus only on social aspects of these tools. There's value outside of that - but the BIG change is the people aspect. Do we limit ourselves by focusing only on "connectedness"?

Clive Shepherd said...

Clive Shepherd - http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.com/2008/07/big-question-leading-charge.html

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony!

I just had to be commenter number 20 :-) I'd better be quick ;-)

You seem to have a lot of enthusiasm buzzing here - I hope it's not misguided.

I tend to agree with Harold Jarche though and use the (now) adage:

"E-learning? Let's have less of the E- and more of the learning".

If we spend so much time wondering what knowledge is,

if we spend so much time wondering about what medium to post it on,

if we spend so much time wondering about who needs to use what technology,

if we spend so much time wondering who needs to know what knowledge,

if we spend so much time wondering if we're doing it all right, we'll not learn much more than a few things to do with the technology - and that's always changing anyway.

We'll be like the dog chasing it's tail. Only, the dog might not even have a tail.

Tony Karrer said...

What's interesting here is that given the highly biased audience - we are all saying - Yes, let's lead the charge. But ... it's a big hurdle to overcome.

I believe that Ken is pointing out that the charge is not really to learn how to use the new tools... it's something a bit different ... it's how to work and learn in new ways. (They happen to be enable partly by these tools.)

At the same time, I think part of the challenge is that these new methods and tools are not ingrained and so people have to be conscious of their use for a while. You DO have to think about the methods and tools.

I actually believe that we've gone far too long without being conscious of how we do our problem solving as knowledge workers, how we learn, and we pick things up in ad hoc ways. Because we aren't conscious of it, it becomes harder to adapt. Greater consciousness is important.

Anonymous said...

Christy Tucker - Experiencing E-Learning: Leading by Example

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony!

Sheesh! I like it when people agree with me :-)

Learn new things or learn in new ways? In the 90's we were told to work smart not hard. Back then we had to work in new ways to cope. Now we have to work hard AND work smart in order to cope. When it comes to learning in new ways I wonder what the aim is.

Are you saying that by learning new ways to learn you make learning easier or more relevant? Or is it just that learning is more important than what you learn?

Educators the world over tell that learning happens easiest when the means to it is invisible. One of the major barriers to learning, anything, is when you have to learn the means in order to learn the beans. Aren't we just contributing to the technowhelm by buying in to all of this?

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Tony Karrer said...

Ken - I subscribe to Friedman's assertion that learning how to learn better/faster is the KEY differentiator for individuals in the 21st century. If you look at what knowledge workers do, it's hard to distinguish work from learning (or maybe it's learning is a by product of most knowledge work) but either way - if you want to achieve results - you need to be able to learn.

Tony Karrer said...

As a follow-up on this, I posted:

Conscious Performance - Path to Improvement

Anonymous said...

Deb Gallo

jay said...

No, no, no, no.

Tony Karrer said...

Jay tells us that - "Organizational stakeholders better be taking the lead. And we’d better be supporting their vision." ...

Who are these folks going to be? Who in the organization looks at these issues?

Jay - you should have scars from no one taking the lead around informal learning. Isn't the same thing going to happen around the need to improve work and learning skills?

Taruna Goel said...

Taruna Goel - I am responsible for leading the change. For myself, and my organization. My response here

Peter Isackson said...

In my contribution Phoning it in I try to give some historical perspective on how cultural shifts take place and the danger of pushing it.

Geetha Krishnan said...

Geetha Krishnan - The LCB Question Bank

Mark said...

Mark Oehlert - July's Big Question...Tony K and the "Learning Discipline"

Anonymous said...

Very well written and referenced piece. Certainly provocative.

Literacy is lacking among many "experts" and this is true in any field. My formal education includes a Bachelor's in Geology followed by a Masters in Science Education. I naively assumed that such a Masters would predicate the need to have some sort of science background. Needless to say . . .

The same holds in Web 2.0 topics. Now I am part of a team that creates elearning that reaches 100,000 users and staying up on the latest tools is vital.

Personally, I do mainly Flash work and have been part of Second Life for over a year. When I say part of it, I mean as an active resident within Second Life. I have developed university campuses, some corporate presences, am a Mentor, and have eleven sims.

While I do spend 20-30 hours in Second Life per week, I do feel funny about claiming to be an expert.

I am humbled when I see programs such as those by Texas State Technical College. They offer a certificate, soon to be an Associates, in Digital Media that is almost entirely delivered through Second Life. Even their website specific to this endeavor is very well done.

In my eyes, they are true experts.

All this to say that a broad knowledge of current tools is important, but there will always be individuals that are the "go to" for specific platforms and vehicles and have the in-depth knowledge.

Thanks for creating such a good buzz on an important issue.

Anonymous said...

Kimberly McCollum: The networked nature of information

Michael Bromby said...

Michael Bromby Is it okay to be a technologically illiterate law teacher?

John Zurovchak said...

John Zurovchak = If you build it, they will come...

Lorrettajd said...

"Blogging for Performance Improvement"
Interesting question and great timing. I had just submitted a pre-proposal for my doctoral dissertation when my issue of T&D arrived and I found this question. It is my intent to explore what learning professionals are doing with social media (specifically blogs) in their human performance processes and in workplace interventions. I am hoping my dissertation mentor approves the topic.
Yes, I think we should lead the charge but my preliminary literature review leads me to thinks it may be too late. It seems we have abdicated social media to IT and Communication professionals. Social media is being used for learning in educational setting (K-12 and college) and in technology oriented companies. I do not think that organizations can continue to ignore social media; it’s knocking at the door and determined to come in.

Lorretta J. Davis, SPHR

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