Workplace Learning is not the same as Education

wol“The business of Education is education; the business of Business is business.

Continuous learning and performance improvement lies at the heart of any business – not packaged training courses, programmes or events.

The work of the L&D department is shifting from “packaging up learning” to enabling and supporting continuous learning in teams and groups.

This means moving away from instructor mode to advisor/consultant mode – working with teams as required to help them solve their own problems in relevant and meaningful ways.

Sometimes, it can mean providing a helping hand for a team or group to get started working (and learning) together – particularly where this has previously not been encouraged. But it’s not about training them to be social, but showing them how to be social.

I wrote about my experience working with the Pfizer Sales Team in India helping them learn out to loud so that they could move to working out loud. I used a Guided Social Learning approach, where my role as a Learning Guide diminished over time, so that by the end of the few weeks working with the team, I dropped out of the group and they continued to work together on their own.

Self-governance is the key; not dependence on L&D.

You can find out more about the Guided Social Learning approach here. This is just one aspect of the new work of L&D as we move Beyond the E-Learning era.

9 thoughts on “Workplace Learning is not the same as Education

  1. Neil Spurgeon

    Hi Jane,

    Having been both formal educator and workplace trainer I completely agree that education and training are different,however I think it is also important to note that because they are both closely related both disciplines, provided the exponents are open minded,can help each other. In particular I would point out that Academia frequently publishes recent research on educational methods and practitioner based research reports that as a trainer can offer new insights.

    An example might be recent research by Cottle and others that throws considerable doubt upon Learning Styles, an area that many trainers are still utterly wedded to. I think that as professionals our clients ought to be able to rely upon us being up to date with current thinking.

    I feel sure that you keep current, but I do wonder how many trainers do actively undertake continuous professional development into new ideas?

    1. Jane Hart Post author

      Educational research might be useful for training, but workplace learning is more than training. That’s the point I am trying to make.

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  3. Pam Cradic

    This is my dream…thank you for sharing the concept and your experience in India.

  4. Jay Cross

    Jane, I agree with you 100% on the tasks that need to be done.

    However, I’m becoming skeptical of the Training Department’s ability to carry them out. Training Departments generally have poor reputations and little organizational clout. How can we expect them to summon the strength to pull off a major cultural shift toward decentralization? They’re typically followers rather than leaders.

    To realize the dream of universal learning in the enterprise, everyone in the organization needs to buy in to the organization’s culture shift to pull, social, sharing, open, beta, tolerant of errors, collaborative, and reflective. Getting people to live and breathe this new way of doing things requires top management support.

    Perhaps responsibility for setting up and maintaining an effective learning infrastructure should rest with line departments instead of being a staff function like Training.

    1. Jane Hart Post author

      Yes, Jay. My next post was going to consider how these roles/skills might be achieved. And of course, it requires an organisational culture that values it too. All the whilst learning = training, nothing much will change. But the point I was trying to make, is that a L&D dept that comprises IDs and trainers won’t be enough.

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  6. Fernando Mendes

    Hello Jane,

    I founded the first coworking space in Lisboa, Portugal, back in 2010. I am now starting my Ph.D program on Design. My work will range from the coworking global wave to the new “Design learning room” (if there will be a room; or learners; or teachers).
    I am very curious about how do you see this coworking swarm and how do you connect it to the workplace learning model.
    Thank you…

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