Pick of the Month: July 2012

July was chock full of great articles and blog posts so here are just some of the articles that I bookmarked –  together with a snippet from each which showed you why they caught my eye. The month was dominated for me by the continuing need for change both in education and in the workplace.

1 – Change in Higher education

The concept of MOOCs got a lot of coverage this month, and particularly the announcement by Coursera that they had signed up a number of universities to their MOOC-platform.

On 6 July, an article in ZD-Net, It’s the digital dawn of open online learning, asked

“Which universities will survive the age of Massive Open Online Courses?”

On 21 July, Mark Edmundson, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, The trouble with online education:

“A truly memorable college class, even a large one, is a collaboration between teacher and students. It’s a one-time-only event. Learning at its best is a collective enterprise, something we’ve known since Socrates. You can get knowledge from an Internet course if you’re highly motivated to learn. But in real courses the students and teachers come together and create an immediate and vital community of learning. A real course creates intellectual joy, at least in some. I don’t think an Internet course ever will. Internet learning promises to make intellectual life more sterile and abstract than it already is — and also, for teachers and for students alike, far more lonely.”

Steve Krause, on 22 July, in Even MORE MOOC MOOC MOOC! Chronicle article explains the business model, reviewed the Coursera approach:

“I am certainly not a business person and the people starting this all seem like smart cookies to me.  But I have to say this is starting to look like pets.com”

Is online education the answer?, asked Daniel Little in the Huffington Post on 23 July:

“Colleges face the revolution that has already hit music and book publishers — the Internet swamps traditional methods of transmission and publication, and whole new consumer experiences and business models are created. An engineer for a major computer company I talked to on a plane recently caught this mood exactly, when he said to me, “I’m sorry for you — your industry is doomed. College education will soon be purchased through the iTunes store as an app.”

Change is always difficult – but just take a look at some of the things our ancestors said about change in their day , in Ballpoint pens…the ruin of education in our country - from Nick Sauers.

From a principal’s pub­li­ca­tion in 1815: “Stu­dents today depend on paper too much.  They don’t know how to write on a slate with­out get­ting chalk dust all over them­selves.  They can’t clean a slate prop­erly. What will they do when they run out of paper?”

2 – Change in the Training Department

Charles Jennings picked up on the news early in July that scientists at Europe’s CERN research centre had announced that they had found a new subatomic particle that behaves like the much sought-after Higgs boson, the ‘god particle’ (or ‘goddamn particle’), and wrote the The Higgs boson of Training & Development? on 5 July.

“The idea that learning is best carried out by removing people from the workplace and providing them with structured content and (if they were lucky) opportunities to practice in a simulated environment was blown away with the invention of the Web and the appearance of ubiquitous information sources.  Suddenly we had the ability to do a lot of things better, faster, more efficiently and more effectively – and often with higher levels of engagement and enjoyment.  It’s taken us a while to realise it, but that’s what happened.”

Jay Cross summarised the ITA thinking on the state of corporate training in his white paper, Why Corporate Training is Broken And How to Fix It , which including this anecdote:

“Workers learn their jobs in the course of doing their jobs. Study after study finds that 70%-95% of learning in the workplace is informal and experiential. (Studies) Most corporate training is an example of the “Streetlight Effect.”

A police officer asks a man searching for his keys under a streetlight, “Are you sure you lost them here?” To which the man replies, “No, think I lost them in the park.”  “Why are you searching here instead of in the park?” asks the police officer. The man replies, “The light is better here.”

Craig Wiggins, writing in Learning Circuits Blog, 30 July 2012,suggested, Let’s stop pretending, and summed up a lot of old thinking that needed to change.

    • Let’s stop pretending that the answer to 70-20-10 is to double down on formal learning hierarchies.
    • Let’s stop pretending that social learning’ is something new (or something that can only be achieved using social media).
    • Let’s stop pretending that what you’re collecting with your LMS has a lot to show in terms of learning analytics, ROI, or business intelligence.

3 – The need for continuous learning – in both education and the workplace

On 16 July, in 16 characteristics of a social workplace, Elizabeth Lupfer named #15 as

“A culture of continuous learning.”

On 17 July in the Washington Post, Mike Shapiro, in Career Coach: What are you doing to keep learning?, explained

“None of us can afford to remain stagnant in our knowledge. Organizations need to ensure that individuals keep learning. To do this, they must create a culture of self-directed learners who are excited about learning and incentivized to advance knowledge and skills.

On 18 July, in Education Unleashed: Now It’s All Up To You, John Mayerhofer said

“In 2012, the only thing left standing between you and knowledge is your will to learn.”

On 20 July, in Why learn?, Stephen J Gill, , wrote

“Learning and work have merged. Izzy Justic, founder and CEO of EQMentor, Inc. writes: “…the successful working professional will not be the one who has accomplished a lot in the past, but the one who is constantly learning.” Whether it’s learning something new, unlearning something old, or learning how to learn, all employees, from front-line technicians to C-suite executives, need to make learning part of their jobs.”

If you’d like to see all of the articles I bookmarked in July, you can find them in my 2012 Reading List. Subscribe to Jane’s Pick of the Day for my daily pick of online articles.

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Jane Hart

Founder at C4LPT
Jane Hart is an independent Workplace Learning Advisor, Writer and International Speaker. Every year she compiles the Top 100 Tools for Learning activity. She also offer a number of online workshops on modernising workplace learning. Find out more about Jane and her work.

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