Corporate E-Learning
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Self directed learning in corporate? You must be kidding

This is a comment on Self directed learning? I don't think so by Bill Bruck.

Bill opens his exposition by

The term self directed learning is often touted as a principle of adult learning, e.g., "adult learners learn best when that learning is self directed." That principle is great for encounter groups; not so good for training brain surgeons. Yet "adult learning specialists" believe that a great way to conduct organizational learning is to allow employees to choose what they want to study, what goals they want to achieve, and the metrics for achieving them. That's hogwash.


Not that Bill has anything against adult learning theory, it is the application of self-drectedness to employer paid corporate learning being misguided. He continued to write:

In the world of organizational learning that I inhabit, employers decide to make an investment of money and time in developing the skills and knowledge of their employees, because there's a businesss reason for so doing (e.g., increased profit or productivity, decreased risk or time to market).

In the world I inhabit, a lot of this training is focused on skills that the organization (not the individual) deems critical: The ability to conduct a hiring interview in accordance with legal guidelines; to document decisions made on an insurance claim; to effectively execute a solution-selling approach; to customize a new version of the operating system without losing data; to employ critical thinking in analyses; or to make persuasive verbal presentations.

In the world I inhabit, it's not the individual who decides whether they have mastered these skills, it is ultimately their managers, as manifested in their performance evaluations.


That is a significant difference in "informal learning" whereas a person seeks to continue develops his/her interest or growth and "corporate learning" whereas a corporate invests to grow the business. These objectives may and may not align well. For maximum efficiency, this is an issue we need to seek a solution.
 
Comments:
Hello, Albert. I appreciate your quoting my little thought piece in your blog. One of the directions we often take in our work is morphing the formal into the informal in our learning programs.

For instance, an eCampus which contains a structured set of activities for a group over one or two months may then morph into an eCommunity which supports informal learning and knowledge sharing. We've used this in several instances with corporate learners.

Have you had success with any such approach?

Also, as an aside, I like your blog on asynchronous collaborative learning; our xPERT eCampus is pretty much optimized to support this, and I'd be interested in dialoging with you further about your thoughts on my article which you published in that blog; unfortunately it isn't set up to take comments.
 
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