Jay Cross
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Informal learning is flat
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Yesterday I visited a new blog on learning, Scott Sorley's Education Technology Guidebook. I like Scott's feisty approach and hope this month-old blog thrives. The training industry is facing some major changes and we'll need all the help we can get on thinking out of the box. For example, rather than building an elaborate in-house learning infrastructure, why not simplly use what Google has already put together?

My book on this is starting to take shape. There will probably be two main chunks:
  1. The Environment or Ecosystem
    Frederick Taylor told workers, "You're not paid to think." Now, thinking is precisely what we're paid for, yet we still work in buildings and social structures designed for industrial efficiency, not thinking and learning. If the ability to learn is indeed the only lasting competitive advantage, we need to make some major modifications to the places we work.I suspect the ideal learning environment will bear more resemblance to a pre-K classroom than to a cube farm.

  2. Free-range learners.
    Grocery stores in Calfornia sell two types of chicken. One is the mass-produced chicken, a bird that lives its entire life cooped up in a chicken concentration camp, unable to do anything save eat, crap, and lay eggs. The other is the free-range chicken, who has "plenty of room to roam and eat their entirely natural diets and grow and live free of stress."

    Free-range learners are people with the opportunity to make choices. This section of the book offers stories and advice about making the most of your time on the range.
I'm going to begin putting more information about informal learning online. I ask you to please critique, comment, and contribution ideas. I'll be setting up a contest for learning hacks. Stay tuned.

Has best-selling author Tom Friedman been looking over our shoulder? In The World is Flat, Tom identifies three earth-shaking turning points that are leveling the global playing field. Here's Tom on #3:
"The last flattener I simply call workflow.* It is really my summary of all the software and standards — standards are very important — that connected all that bandwidth from those fiber-optic cables with all those PCs. Workflow is very important."

"When, suddenly, people could talk to people like never before and, at the same time, applications could talk to applications like never before; you put those two together, and what was created, willy-nilly, was a global platform for multiple forms of collaboration. Suddenly, people could collaborate on more kinds of work, in more different ways, on more different days, from more different places than ever before."
I'm so much more into "pull" strategies than "push," that I am inevitably behind schedule sending out my newsletter. You can sign up for any or all of the newsletters here. Privacy is assured. And I promise not to inundate you with email.

*Tom actually wrote work flow. The interview I took the quote from spelled it workflow.


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