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

11 June 2006

Learning Culture

Clark @ 1:38 PM

Someone pinged me, asking about learning culture, and in particular a Learning Culture Index. I don’t know of a Learning Culture Index, but this triggered a couple of interesting thoughts:

First, I was talking to my students at the face-to-face weekend get together about the benefits of diversity, and mentioned Hofstede’s dimensions of national character (Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, & Long-Term Orientation). This was part of an effort to get the students to work well in groups.

At a multi-cultural learning workshop I attended when I taught in Australia, they argued that you shouldn’t create different learning cultures but instead use the best culture and assist learners into it from whatever their initial learning culture is. So what is the best learning culture?

It seemed to me that an ideal would be low power-distance, a cooperative learning situation; low individualism, working collaboratively (though that must be tempered with ownership of one’s own responsibility for learning); low masculinity, not feminity but gender neutral; low uncertainty avoidance, being willing to wrestle with ambiguity and uncertainty since by definition the material is not known; and a long-term orientation.

I think you could characterize an organization’s learning culture, though I’m less certain it would differ from the organization’s culture as a whole.

I was also reminded of Samantha Chapnick’s thorough elearning Readiness Assessment. There was an instrument, but it seems to have withered away.

Somewhere between Hofstede & Chapnick I suspect there’s a valuable approach. Then you have to ask, what would you do with a learning culture index? Understanding it would be a first step and then determining useful directions, and assessing readiness to progress would be next, and then finally executing, leading to more nimbleness, greater innovation, and all the other benefits that can accrue.

1 Comment »

  1. Great post, Clark, and interesting new twist on the subject! You can find our Learning Culture Audit (sometimes also refered to as an index) at the Ageless Learner website. The audit was orginally published in Creating a Learning Culture (Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press, 2004).

    Comment by marcialc — 12 June 2006 @ 5:21 PM

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