Learnlets
Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

28 February 2006

Investing in ourselves

Clark @ 8:53 am

Jay Cross has written a screed that resonates strongly with me. In it, he makes the case for investing in improving learner’s learning and/or thinking abilities, not just their task-related skill-sets.

We’ve argued this before, as part of our meta-learning interest, but it remains cogent (and all too ignored). The point being, and particularly for knowledge workers, that skills about self-learning, about reflecting and problem-solving, are the key in moving forward. Tony O’Driscoll’s pointed out how as you gain more expertise the value of received wisdom diminishes and you’re in a state of continual knowledge development and negotiation of shared understanding.

Well, what if you don’t know how to reflect well? Or to capture the understandings you’ve developed, or how to communicate, or how to negotiate understanding? If you don’t have the necessary skills, your effectiveness is hampered, yet no one’s talking about investing in the effectiveness of the background skills. And if you think that you can just hire people with these skills, or trust them to develop on their own, the evidence is that you’re sadly mistaken.

I’ve been working on how we might use technology to develop these skills as a layer on top of our learning systems, but I think a necessary additional step is explicit acknowledgement of the need, and more concerted efforts on developing these skills. So what are we waiting for?

2 Comments »

  1. I’ve been working on how we might use technology to develop these skills as a layer on top of our learning systems, but I think a necessary additional step is explicit acknowledgement of the need, and more concerted efforts on developing these skills. So what are we waiting for?

    Clark;

    Great concept. Two observations.

    1. You could create a dashboard that summarizes skill / learning levels like an exception report.
    I have taught CRM, cockpit resource management. They have something like this when students are in simulators. The best I’ve ever seen was also in CRM but it was retrospective. When they train pilots on accident avoidance, they have several lines at the bottom of the screen that show every detail of what’s gone on: time, fuel, speed, wind, etc. That’s overkill for your concept but it provides a great model.

    2. As you know, many of the action games have a screen that comes up on command that summarizes actions and resources. Again, all we need to do is figure out our outcome metrics, calibrate the system and show users how they are doing. It’s also a great motivational tool. In the academic learning world, we have terrible outcome measures. I hope your industrial projects offer stronger outcome metrics. The great attribute of learning games and sims is that the system can automatically keep track and display your layer of learning from the behavior of the active learner.

    I suspect that non-intrusive progress metrics are a strong element of sustained engagement.

    Related topic. I use to speak at many of the HR/Training/Management conferences as you do today. One of my favorite lines was: Creating change is easy. I can create change as a motivational speaker. Unfortunately, what we need to do is to create change and sustain the changes. Then I would follow with “metrics provide a way to motivate and sustain change.”

    You might consider a blog on sustaining engagement. That seems like a high-value objective.

    Regards,

    Mark Edwards

    p.s. My wife Ann is a TEC Chair. She manages two gaggles of 16 CEO’s with a meeting and coaching each month. TEC is owned by Knowledge Universe. Fortunately, TEC operates fairly independently from KU.

    Comment by Mark Edwards — 1 March 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  2. Two great ideas, Mark.

    First, keeping track of activity in a simulation, creating a record that the learner can review if they have some self-efficacy, or review with a mentor, has been experimented with (e.g. Raghavan & Schauble’s Dynamic And Reflective Notation, DARN). Also, presenting the learner with our understanding of them: in an intelligently adaptive learning system we developed (Intellectricity), we provide the learner with a representation of our take on their learning skills & styles.

    Sustaining engagement and sustaining change; yes. I’ve been looking at attitudinal change, and it’s one thing to get people to commit to a change, it’s another to get that commitment to stick through the process of changing behavior. I think many ignore that second step.

    (And, yes, I know of TEC as you probably surmise through your mention of KU. TEC’s got a great concept.)

    Comment by Clark — 3 March 2006 @ 8:12 am

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