Friday, May 26, 2006

George Siemens's White Paper: Learning in Synch with Life

I have come across several pointers to this (via blogs, phone calls and email) white paper from George Siemens for the Google 2006 Training Summit, among them Mark Berthelemy and Stephen Downes (I'm sure there were others, but I can't remember them all - sorry). Reading through it, there were several moments when I wanted to stand up and cheer.

So much of what George is referring to is relevant to projects on my plate at work, right here, right now. There's huge emphasis (as you would expect from George) on connectivism, networks and social media. I kept feeling like I wanted to say, "This is what I'm talking about!" If I were to extract what I found most helpful, there would be so little of the paper left, it wouldn't be worth the effort, so I'll settle for just this one quote:

A learning model is required that is reflective of the challenges and opportunities facing learners now.
What I particularly like about George's work is that I know he's not a pure theorist. This is a man with a direct accountability to a group of learners and to an institutional hierarchy in his day job. He is daily engaged with the process of getting people to see that he's not actually trying to make water flow uphill: the water is flowing quite happily downhill, now get in the flippin' boat!

That said, this paper lays out the theory. Now it is time to put it into practice. This is the part that's not so easy. Balancing a client's perception of their own requirements with the changing state of knowledge and learning from our perspective is very tricky. George mentions the reluctance of organisations to set aside the real-life-on-hold approach to learning and buy into this approach of learning that is in synch with life - an integral part of the day job... and the rest. Learners (and I hope I count us all in that group) are getting on with the business of this type of learning - organisations need to find way so to facilitate, support and augment that.

So now we know what we should be doing, we know why we should be doing it, we know when we should be doing it (now). The next step is the how. How are we going to persuade (s)he-who-signs-the-cheque to let us get on and do it? (To be fair, I know that's my problem, not George's, but I just had to vent for a moment.)

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