This is perhaps a demonstration of how we learn just by being exposed to a diversity of conversations and how a simple blog and some prompting by others online can generate unplanned learning. A few weeks ago I posted some questions reflecting my confusion around action learning, on-the-job learning, action research, experiential learning and similar terms.
My understanding of action learning was very fuzzy at the time and it has now evolved to the point where I see it as a specific group learning technique with a narrow range of applications in the same sense that After-Action-Reviews are a specific group learning/reflection technique. It's a process with a specific set of rules. It needs to be facilitated by an action learning coach, and it is meant to help solve a specific problem which first needs to be identified carefully so that it can in fact be addressed through this action learning process.
I'm both satisfied that I have a better understanding of the process and somewhat disappointed. I wanted it to be more than that. With a name like 'action learning', I expected more.
Is it on-the-job learning? There is a learning component to it. Using action learning as a process is a way of learning group problem solving. It's probably a useful mechanism to improve critical thinking skills and team dynamics. It's entirely about a work-related problem and therefore it's "on-the -job". However, it's not really what I would call 'learning by doing."