It came up in the Corporate Learning Trends conference last week that one person was responsible for knowledge workers who were, as she claimed, passive learners. This is a really interesting issue, because it crosses several different areas.
In research on education, it’s been found that what learners believe about their role in learning has an impact on the outcomes of learning interventions. That is, if learners believe that their role is to recite back what they’ve heard, or that learning ‘happens’ to them, the results are not as effective as if the learners have a belief that they have to be active in the role.
I have seen this as a college instructor, when students don’t want to take responsibility for their own learning. I adapted by stating my expectations at the beginning, and what would and would not work in being successful in class.
This has also played a role in the success of distance learning. The early initiatives in online learning found that the students who were successful were the self-directed learners, and they increased success by focusing on supporting the learning behaviors of students.
As we talk more about creating communities where learners work together, we should not take learning skills nor epistemologies about learning for granted. I think that, in this time of increasing change, growing information overload, shorter half-life of knowledge, etc, that the most useful information we can provide is how to be a better learner.
So, don’t just look at the tools you provide, and your culture for learning, but also consider your learners and how they learn. You’ll be investing in them in a powerful and valuable way. And that’s a win all around, I reckon.