Weaving Conversations

TLT Knowledge Log

Informal Learning

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on February 15, 2007

As I’ve been working on my studies in Teaching, Technology I have been influenced by many current thinkers/theorists. Jay Cross and informal learning were among the first I read seriously. I found that I had adopted the term quite easily, as a description and an explanation of what I was experiencing

Jay’s recent commentary:

Stephen hopped in with a lengthy critique saying, among other things, “If there is anything to the theory of informal learning, then the values it expresses are more than just preferences on a sliding scale.” I’m not a philosopher, but this seems like telling the Ferrari dealer I’d like a red one, only to be told there’s more to a Ferrari than its color. No joke. If a Ferrari were merely wheels, speed, color, and so on, a Toyota would suffice.

Saying Ferraris come in a choice of colors (I saw a green one a couple of days ago) does not denigrate the mystique, aura, beauty, and utter Ferrari-ness of the car. But I digress. I’ve suggested to Stephen that we converse on the subject, record it, put it on the web, and see if it advances understanding.

When people disagree, I want to understand where they’re coming from. I’m on a quest to make organizations more effective and workers more fulfilled and happy in their lives. Since hearing David Cooperrider in New York last month, I’ve tried to adopt his stance that you get a lot further building on strengths than sorting through problems. I’ll address my critics when Epson and others stop making it hard to get through the day. I’m busy at the moment. Customers come first, academic argument later.

Let’s think of ways to air these issues in public. They are important. At Training 2007? At the Guild’s Annual Gathering? In an online gathering? I’m always up for honest dialog. What we’re addressing, such things as knowledge work, learning as co-creation, more self-service, taking advantage of network effects, learning with both sides of the brain, and giving people the freedom to do what’s right is a gut-wrenching change from the status quo. Some see a job threat; others, a career opportunity.

I encourage those joining the debate to do their homework — by looking further than one blog post to support their take on things. Let’s go beyond knee-jerk reactions.

I say… let’s do it. Let’s organize another online conference… a la the Online Connectivism Conference… The more the academic dialog and discourse flourishes the better for all!

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