Thursday, July 03, 2008

Going off half-cocked

Tony Karrer has taken it into his head to replace this month's Big Question with a Big Stir. I sense an increasing frustration with our profession in the ranks of those who are 2.0 savvy, and it goes further and deeper than the issues Tony has raised.

By way of my contribution, I think I could do no better than to share some link love with Don Taylor for his recent article in Training Zone magazine, and with Mark Berthelemy for his response.

I touched on this same nerve recently, when I agreed to have one of my papers (which debunks learning styles) published on the learning pages of our company's intranet. Why is that so many learning professionals are quick to embrace a theory that generates neat graphics without first checking the underlying theory, and then to defend it to the hilt?

My husband has an excellent expression that he saves for such situations: "My mind's made up - don't confuse me with facts!"


Anonymous said...

Karen, maybe one of the answers comes from physics -- specifically, the concept of inertia.

Inertia actually works in two ways. The first is the one we usually think of: bodies at rest tend to remain at rest.

So we achieve a level of comfort, or, to put it more kindly, a level of skill. It feels good to operate within the bounds of your skill: exercising your talent, but not (as they say in weight training) to exhaustion.

Figuring out new methods or technology, especially when many new things seem to offer more proposition than value, can seem as though you'd diminish your effectiveness. For one thing, you're not doing that which you're skilled at. For another, you will ipso facto apply be less effective initially trying to apply the new method or technology.

The other side of inertia is that bodies in motion tend to remain in motion in the same direction they'd been moving. This is what I see as the early-adopter phenomenon, or the Lure of Bright Shiny Objects.

People jump from (say) Facebook to Ning to Twitter to Diigo. Possibly that's for increased productivity, but some folks just enjoy jumping.

And for them it's not a big, um, leap to think that everyone else really oughta wanna jump, too.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully answered above. Karyn, I feel just the right balance is required. Knowing that technology is crucial we must also acknowledge that the traditional methods of learning will never die. The e learning and the vast possibilities in terms of self-paced and enhanced informal learning will become integrated into the system. The right balance will integrate the traditional and the web-based learning in a seamless smooth way. I guess we need not push it too hard as some people take time to adept. Only way to facitilate is to make it so easy and interesting that the adaptation is painless.Well, effortless for those who dread technology. Lovely post, Regards.

Anonymous said...

I feel I need to point out that I wasn't specifically referring to the adoption (or otherwise) of technology. Although I maintain that learning professionals should lead by example. We should be avid learners ourselves, and we should be keen to explore what emerging technologies have to offer.

However, I am even more concerned about the adherence to models. Even after the emperor has been declared naked, many learning professionals continue to expound upon the quality of the cloth, the skill of the cut, etc.

And while we're at it: I predict that the next model to be tumbled will be Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora tatou!

I have been lurking, perhaps too long, on this topic.

It seems there's a tendency for 'big' people to get an idea and run with it these days without due consideration about what they're running with. By 'big' I mean those in top managerial positions and on boards and ministries.

@Karyn - I concur with how you feel and there's not much wrong with a bit of learning :-) especially if it's useful - but who decides what's useful? That's the issue.

@Dave - I like the Physics metaphor, though bodies at rest are rare, even in Physics. The inertia factor also works when bodies are moving as you said. Usually it's more a case of change of direction - people learn all the time, not necessarily the way others would want. And early adopters aren't always moving in the right direction either (opinion :-) they just think they are and I feel that this is part of the issue.

@Rina - I suppose the balance bit, in reference to Dave's inertia, is a dynamic balance rather than a static one?

My own feeling on all this is that we are looking at a complexity system. There are many factors. And the technology is driven by many factors, the chief of which seems to be commercial rather than a real need - just look at what's happening to the OLPC project! sigh!

Ka kite ano
from Middle-earth