Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From e-learning to We-learning

OK, this one goes back a while (back to September as a matter of fact!)

It's been sitting in my RSS starred items folder for a while waiting for me to do something with it. For the longest period of time I did not know what to do with it. The reason for this is that what the author writes seems so bleeping obvious (with the exception of the made up term "we-learning").

I remember back in the day, when I was a wee MBA student taking a course in Knowledge Management (sidebar: just looked at my transcript - wow, that was Spring of 2006! it seems so long ago), we spoke of these issues of capturing knowledge within the company and how we can capitalize on it, either through formal or informal means. The books and cases we used were anywhere from less than a year old to things that went back a decade (or more). The key thing here is that the idea of using informal learning, looking to your fellow coworker for knowledge, is an old thing and I am surprised that learning specialists took this long to start looking at it.

In management we called informal knowledge "water cooler knowledge". You go to the water cooler, someone happens to have a question, you may have an answer or know someone who has an answer and you use your social network to find answers (and heck sometimes learn). I think the only thing that is different today is the proliferation of additional pieces of software that allow us to do more and in different ways than before. Does this mean that it's a paradigm changing model? Perhaps....then again perhaps not. Just because you use some new tech doesn't mean that you have a completely different paradigm - the underlying theory may still be the same.

Is this line of thought going anywhere? Well, perhaps not. Maybe this is why it took me such a long time to write this. Then again, this isn't new - it's just a new name for something that existed and apparently we've ignored.
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