Am I allergic to learning measurement?
This spring, I seem to have developed allergies for the first time in my life. They weren’t severe, thankfully, but they were a true annonyance. Itchy ears, stuffy nose, expensive but seemingly effective Aerius pills, you know what I mean.
Now in my third mooc, #change11, I find myself developing an allergy of a different kind: a nauseous, eye-rolling, headachy feeling whenever someone talks about formalizing and measuring social or informal learning. It triggers some primal response from me that looks like Kermit, all flailing arms and squealing, “Why does it even matter how I learned to perform as long as I can do the job well ?!” Whether it was a certain number of Tweets or blog posts? A conversation of a particular duration? Self-study and reflection? A certain number of days in a classroom? A desk aid or manual of a particular length?
Do you really want me to spend my limited time and energy trying to tease that out on some kind of system that you can quantify on a checklist, print on a report and decide whether it’s enough or not? I’m starting to see this mindset of formalizing the informal as a cop-out for not making time to understand performance. If we reinvested into performance support the time, energy and dollars we are trying to shove into learning management systems, learning reports and smiley sheets, we might have a better understanding of the standards we are trying to achieve and the gaps between current and desired performance. Even then, training will only close part of the gap, if any. The rest has to do with incentives, attitudes, working conditions and other factors that training will never be able to address. Jane Hart and her associates say this much better than I can.
By contrast, I don’t even remember now how I found this delightful video a few days ago of Kenyan farmer, Zack Matere, in Growing Knowledge:
It doesn’t really matter which newsletter or contact it came from, whether it was required or suggested reading posted on a wooden or virtual bulletin board. What matters is that I made the time to consume it, connect it with prior knowledge and get something out of it that changes my performance (such as figuring out how to add video to this post).
I now feel more committed to blogging in the same way that Zack feels about social, networked farming: “I felt proud because something that wasn’t there before was suddenly there.”
Right on, Zack, that was just the pill I needed.
From → Smarter worker