Electronic learning LO13530

chris macrae (wcbn007@easynet.co.uk)
Thu, 8 May 1997 00:37:14 +0100 (BST)

Replying to LO13493 --

Lon asks some questions I find exciting. First, I've repeated his message
because I couldn't quickly think how to abbreviate the context:

>Chris writes about a training process in which:
>The student interactively becomes the questioning examiner (if you will)
>> Specifically, why not:
>> -build up a web as a menu of reading/browsing tracks (learning appetisers)
>> -ask the trainee to choose ...which of these interests him or her...
>> -continue the learning in a post-tutored session e-mail group with the
>> tutor as moderator
>I think the concept is great and there is no doubt that improved resources
>and a decreased emphasis on talking heads will change training. However,
>what is the difference between this idea and the present system? The
>learner is still fed what someone else feels is important. The
>unknown/unknown is still not explored. Connections are mentored rather
>than discovered. Personal growth is secondary to planned activity. The
>learner is still dependent on expert advice. The "textbooks", although
>numerous, are still limited by convention.

Here are a few possible differences, make your own shopping list:

-When you pay for one of those expensive executive seminars, you could get
3 bites at learning form the speakers (pre-, post ) as well as the
soundbite questions that come to mind in real time when you neither have
preparation nor time to reflect. Moreover, if the value of such
conferences is to network, your pre-conference e-mail debate will have
helped you decide which other delegates you want to hunt out. And your
pre-conference questioning will have helped speakers customise their focus
to your pitch. (I can think of a few speakers who will readily admit they
learn the most by good questions they get from their "students")

-At say the undergraduate level, university students can swap notes across
institutions and learn what facts (are only deemed to be so) by the local
examiner. They would probably start comparing course textbooks, and in a
field like business strategy I expect they would soon burn 900 of the
1000? extant today, most of which are not much more than me-toos by
regional teachers/publishers with captive audiences (and unecessarily
copyrighted jargon variations). The way ahead is towards a transparency of
what are best in the world "learning materials, and what are not. We
desperately need to simplify (and make consistent) expert knowledge before
teams can build on it?

-I believe that one of the biggest determinators of creativity is
diversity. Until yesterday who you learnt from was largely confined by
geography, your expect sector, and your company. The internet (boosted by
the day that this scribble is computer-automatically translated to your
home tongue) gets rid of the geographical prison to human thought at a
stroke. I suspect that corporate networks across organisations, and across
experts will soon be leveraging interdisciplinary and inter-organisational
knowledge in ways that will make the information age the fastest wealth
(not just monetary) producing era the human race has known. Looked at
from the customer end, netted lobby groups will increasingly expose
companies that are slow to improve quality and value.

- One of the most difficult (for me) things to get my mind around in terms
of a big organisation's systems archetypes is that they are not normally
drawn up anywhere you can browse and discuss with your peers. I suggest
learning organisations should be doing this now on the equivalent to an
internal web : so that the language, culture and awareness needed to think
and act system-speak is connected across a sufficient mass of employees
that learning organisations come of age. Again, the first steps towards
building this may not be easy; but heck companies could benchmark each
others attempts to do this. I suspect big organisations that don't make a
web of their systems process-aligning in 2005 as common -and as totally
interactive - as the wretchedly political organigram of the late 20th
century, will be playing their last parts in Stephen Spielgberg's next
Jurassic adventure ( Lost worlds?).

Chris Macrae wcbn007@easynet.co.uk

PS Of course a truly end-consumer oriented company could make its system
archetypes transparent-as-a-guarantee to external audiences too. After all
the weakest link in degraded systems is the consumer's biggest risk - you
only need to read how catastrophes like air crashes or chemical explosions
are more often system errors than human errors to start to feel that maybe
there should be freedom of (info) questioning how thoroughly companies
understand their own systems. (Anyone wanting a good read on the risk of
degraded systems can get from me a word 6.0 attachment of a relevant paper
by my colleague David Weir, Director of the Management Centre, University
of Bradford)


wcbn007@easynet.co.uk (chris macrae)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>