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  Thursday, October 10, 2002

  Corporate objectives and learner-centered learning

Two things from "Buy my software and good luck." [Seb's Open Research]

Everybody is talking about learner centered learning. And yet (as Levy argues) e-learning is intended to promote corporate objectives. There is an inconsistency here.

  • And Seb's comment:

To go back to Stephen Downes' observation, is there an inherent contradiction between learner-centered learning (or individual-centered KM) and corporate objectives? I'm not sure. I think it might depend on the maturity of the corporate culture, i.e. where it lies in the internal competition-collaboration spectrum.

(1) Depends on e-learning type. Content-driven learning (=something usually understood as e-learning) is definetely something promoting corporate goals, it has to focus on "will pay back" areas because it costs too much. But taking e-learning in a broad sense of learning on-line [more] makes it easier: giving initiative to people themselves is cheaper.

(2) I thought that this might be relevant: the distinction between formal and informal learning from Center for Workforce Development study (1998)

Formal learning

  • of variable relevance to worker needs
  • communicated information is constant across learners
  • variable gap between current and target knowledge
  • instructional
  • variable temporal gap to application
  • represents core "organizationally beneficial" knowledge
  • scheduled
  • occurs in a settings other than that where the knowledge is used
  • has specified outcomes
  • with a "trainer" who is accountable for results

Informal learning

  • extremely relevant to worker needs
  • communicated information is variable across learners
  • small gap between current and target knowledge
  • constructivist
  • immediately applicable
  • core and other knowledge
  • arises spontaneously
  • occurs in the settings where knowledge is used
  • with/without specific outcomes

(3) All these takes me back to my thinking about Formal/informal interplay and Supporting informal learning. In any case I believe that only learner-relevant learning is effective enough to invest in, so companies have to find the way to build on learners' interests.

  Good practice, not best practice

gRadio in Don't always aim for the top, when the middle presents a better target.

Collecting best practices from the top performers may not be the best practice, ironically. Top performers often do things in a way that make management uncomfortable, or that are not easily replicable. As I had mentioned in Of Tom Gilbert and K-logs, the performance of top performers may not be easily replicable, by them, or by others.

A company seeking to obtain the highest ROI should try to make all of those folks tagged as low performers achieve at the level of those folks who are tagged "competent'. Here's why. There is greater room for improvement there, and the results are likely to be both attainable and sustainable, and at a more reasonable level of investment of effort, time, and costs. Think about the effort required to move a C+ student to being a B+ student. That is almost always far easier than moving someone from being an A- student to being an A+ student. Reduced range of error and return on investments play major factors here. In addition, pulling up the bottom performers toward the middle is far more likely to bring in greater gains than bringing some of the upper end people toward the very top.

True... One more argument of using good practice instead of best practice.

With one more thought: what if those top-performers are early adopters of tomorrow's mainstream? What if they do innovative things that could bring real break-through?

More on: innovation KM 

  Learning trends

Elliott Masie in recent TechLearn TRENDS (bold is mine):

2. Learning Issues in Italy: I have just returned from a visit to Italy where I spoke at a Human Resources Conference. Key learnings from dialogues:

  • Strong desire for more localized e-Learning content.
  • Views of Learning more closely linked to "culture of workplace" issues
  • Legal and Union issues are throwing some hurdles to learning implementation
  • Desire to closely link Knowledge Management and e-Learning efforts
More on: e-learning KM KM&learning 

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© Copyright 2002-2007 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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