Monday, December 18, 2017

Lifelong Learning, Learning & Development, Organization Development, Organizational Learning & Knowledge Management

Lifelong learning  has been mostly "sold" as the responsibility of the individual, a pursuit of learning beyond formal education, throughout life, sometimes as a means of strengthening one's employability in changing economic contexts, as a way of keeping up with new advances in one's professional field, as a way of staying engaged, even as a way to build cognitive reserves and ward off Alzheimer in old age.

Beyond personal responsibility, lifelong learning is often integrated into the vocabulary of Learning & Development (L&D) specialists.  In more traditional L&D approaches, lifelong learning may be advocated as a way to encourage employees to keep building their credentials by signing up for and attending courses, especially when the organization has invested in the development of corporate training.

Increasingly (and it's a good thing), learning has been broadened to cover much more than formal courses, whether in formal educational institutions or corporate environments (see the work of Jane Hart and Harold Jarche in particular).  As technology has evolved and penetrated learning and training departments, formats have evolved as well. For example, the recognition that time is often a constraint has led to the development of micro-learning, which can happen at any time using conspicuous mobile devices.  The alternative explanation for the development of micro-learning is that our attention spans are decreasing and we need bit-size learning moments to accommodate shrinking brain power.  That's scary.

This expansion of opportunities for learning has been accompanied by the recognition that most of our learning comes from first-hand experiences.  When we learn from experience, we essentially teach ourselves what no one else could possibly have taught us.  This learning by doing (and learning by reflecting on our experience) is still not well integrated in most models or framework of workplace learning. Harold Jarche's work is probably the notable exception.

From an organizational learning perspective, we often emphasize group/team learning, and the learning organization.  Yet group and organization learning cannot truly happen unless the individuals within that organization are themselves, learning.  Organization Development (OD) as a field of study, does pay much more attention to the different levels of analysis (individual, group, organization).  Knowledge Management, on the other hand, tends to neglect individual learning and focuses on leveraging knowledge for the organization with a strong focus on benefits to the organization's mission.

In the end, it is unfortunate that professional disciplines end up digging deep tracks and creating their own vocabulary when it's all connected and challenges would be much more effectively addressed with a broad systems approach.  I don't even want to say cross-disciplinary because it reinforces the fact that there are disciplines with artificial boundaries that need to be crossed.  In a systems perspective, the boundaries disappear.

We need a framework that speaks to the connections between individual learning, team learning, and organizational learning and addresses the dynamics of such a system in the context of a rapidly changing world where individuals AND organizations need to increase their learning agility in order to keep up but also to stay ahead and innovate.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Teaching Knowledge Management

I'm super excited to get access today to the Learning Management System that will allow me to teach Knowledge Management to undergraduate business students at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). 

This is going to be a new experience.  While I've taught online before, this is different because as of earlier this morning, I had no idea of the actual content of the course other than a short paragraph description.  Now I have 28 days to get ready!  The content is there (readings and major assignments).  I'll need to absorb it quickly and create corresponding learning activities that will engage the learners.  There's a creative aspect to it that's much less overwhelming than having to create content for an entire class AND an opportunity to share my own KM practice experience.  That's really what the College wants out of online faculty like myself.... our practical experience in the subject matter we are teaching.

The fun starts today.... and again when the learners start interacting online!
I'll post some lessons in March (or sooner).