Saturday, March 04, 2006

Expert = dedicated motivated life-long learner

I’ve learned over my years in the Learning field that I am no longer needed.  Woa, stop…that’s not what I mean…

My “formally” trained, masters level educated Educational Technologist self is no longer needed.  The elements of instructional design that were taught are the same elements of design that created our educational system which is designed to crank out workers for an age long past.

“No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.” David Warlick – 2 Cents Worth blog


I wrote in a recent post that motivated employees will overcome any roadblock, and endure most anything to get the information they need to reach their goals.  That’s THEIR goals…not the instructional designer’s, not the manager’s, not even the company’s goals.  These are the ones working to answer their field’s most demanding questions, solving the most difficult problems. 

“What are the important problems of your field?”  Richard Hamming 1986

{Well worth reading.  I don’t remember which blog pointed me to this, but I am incredibly greatful.}


The dedicated, motivated few who pass that threshold of pain and begin to kick ass are embracing the reality of life long learning.  Remember, that there is pain (even if its only mild frustration) in LEARNING!  Learning is messy.  Learning requires motivated effort on the part of the learner.  This is one of the reasons why popular computer games become popular.  The true principles of learning are applied in games design, not instructional design.

“Game designers have a lot better take on the nature of learning than instructional designers.” Seymour Papert, MIT


If you want to kick ass, as Kathy Sierra so eloquently puts it, you must be willing to go past the kick ass threshold.  What a great image she has in her “How to be an Expert” post. 

(check out the image from “How to be an Expert” before reading the next paragraph)  I would argue that 80% of corporate employees rest comfortably in that middle zone never really kicking anything.  Another 10% are blisfully unaware and excited about the new hire training in the lower zone (below the Suck Threshold) and they tend to move quickly into the middle zone with early signs of wanting to kick ass.  The 10% that actually make the dicision to kick ass in their chosen area of expertise are quickly identified as high performers and “promoted” into management where they can no longer kick ass.  They are quickly recycled back into the lower zone except this time in “Management Leardership Training”.  Again, they become part of the 10% blisfully unaware and excited about the new opportunity (and $$$) they quickly endure the early mandated training and move back up into the middle zone of comfort only fondly remembering what it was like when they used to (or wanted to) kick ass.  And so the cycle continues.


So where can Learning professionals add value? I’m convinced the old school methods will endure for another decade or longer in certain areas for certain people.  However, the greatest value we can add comes in facilitating the connections required for people to have meaningful conversations.  This is already happening online (Web2.0) and with new, more advanced mobile devices (mobile Learning).  And instead of structuring linear content the way WE think it should be structured, we should allow the users access to the elements that make up the content.  We should make the content available, editable, linkable, taggable, publishable in the smallest possible chunks, allowing the users to contextuallize that content into an order, or form, that best represents their current environment.  They know better than we will ever know.


The current thinking that supports this is wrapped up in terms like connectivism, Learning2.0, MicroLearning, nanolearning, learning ecologies, and summed up in this quote.

"I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." Albert Einstein

Today we could substitute conditions for environment and that would include virtual environments as well.  Check out what’s going on with Croquet, and SecondLife.

Let’s start giving learners the tools and environments they need to Kick Ass in the Conceptual Age of the 21st Century.

1 comment:

Harold Jarche said...

Your post reflects many of my own perceptions of this field. You might want to join us in creating a web 2.0 program later this month: