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On Social Learning with Harold Jarche and Steve Wheeler

Late last week I met with Harold Jarche, who was one of the closing speakers at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum. One of the opening speakers, Steve Wheeler was also at the hotel and joined us for the first hour. We had a wide-ranging discussion that had implications for a number of knowledge management issues. Some highlights:

Steve Wheeler
  • Lean, agile, no-budget learning and development is new and disruptive. It involves novices with a problem identifying it to experts then the experts delivering it. Means better engagement with students, and puts less onus on the expert and L&D designing learning. I’ve been thinking about delivering some learning around CSS and HTML. Using this concept, I could find everyone who has given CSS a ‘one star’ on Arup’s expertise matrix, ask them what they’d like to get out of a session on CSS/HTML, then design the module around that or get others with a four or five star rating to collaborate on the design. Then deliver. The concept is apparently in active use by Andrew Jacobs at Lambeth Borough Council.
  • Learning how to learn is something we need to get better at…. Don’t jump straight to learning objectives in conversation.
  • Formal learning is explicit and tangible whilst informal is implicit and intangible. Therein lies a problem as organisations struggle with intangible value.
  • Our job as learning and development professionals is to encourage others to become explicit in sharing their knowledge.
  • Communities of practice come up with the innovations and guidance, project teams apply them.
  • Community leadership requires a ‘gentle hand’.
  • Open knowledge networks enable transparency, which fosters diversity of ideas, reinforces openness and builds trust.
  • The engine of the creative economy is talent – initiative, creativity, passion. You can’t automate this, only encourage it.
  • China is struggling to manage an agrarian, industrial and creative economy all at once.
  • Blogging is a great way to promote yourself; both Steven and Harold seemed to trot these out with ease though they’d come at it from different angles.
  • Diversity of thought is essential for innovation, not groupthink. You need to move people out of silos.
  • Harold talked about his ‘Productivity tools for the networked enterprise’ analysis model. It’s a simple and useful mechanism to specify what, knowledge management-wise, needs to be facilitated by technology.
  • Though he’s written a few articles sponsored by Microsoft, Harold’s opinion of Sharepoint as an intranet platform isn’t flattering.
  • Models are always flawed; but some are useful.
  • We discussed our East Asian knowledge sharing behavioural issue; he gave the example of Korean Airlines which had the worst accident record of any airline at the time. They changed behaviour by making everyone on board a flight cockpit and cabin crew speak in English. This broke down the strict hierarchical linguistic tendency in Korean and in part facilitated a move to a more questioning, open understanding of what was going wrong.

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