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Learning Is the New Work
Educating should be done on the job, not in the classroom. Innovation requires importing into the workplace patterns of thought from foreign sources that are often detached from learning regimes.
Work used to be simple — tasks were mechanical and things rarely changed, so initial lessons lasted a lifetime. But slowly that kind of work became automated and outsourced to places where workers earn very low wages.
Next came information work, which was often complicated, but it was linear, procedural and rote. Often information work came with mountains of details that were put into reference databases, procedure manuals and performance support systems. Workers could off-load memorization and processing to computers and their outboard brains. Information work has been commoditized; it no longer produces high value.
Today’s most rewarding work is conceptual. Workers deal with novel situations on the fly. These may be human interactions — service is replacing manufacturing as the driver in almost all the world’s economies — or dealing with uncertainty and surprises — complex environments are inherently unpredictable. Innovation has become more important than production. Doing the right things, often new things, trumps doing things right.
In a world of rapid change, learning can never stop. A worker cannot tackle new challenges, take advantage of new information or make judgment calls on novel situations without learning along the way. More than merely being embedded into work, learning has become integral to work. Social learning at work does not exist outside of that context. Likewise, informal learning can’t be isolated from work itself. Learning is work.
How did we ever think otherwise? Well, we unwisely used school as the mental model for how to structure workplace learning. The difficulty there is that education is generally isolated from the real world.
Schools erect walls to protect children from the dangers that lurk outside. When the children are old enough to fend for themselves, academics construct ivory towers to keep real-world noise from interfering with deep dives into artificial disciplines. But learning a particular discipline with the assumption that other things are equal is poor preparation for a messy world where those other things actually have great impact.
Microlearning — Size DOES Matter
June 20th 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
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