Sunday, September 22, 2013

Metalearning: Learning How to Learn (part 1)

I came upon a very relevant blog post from Jane Hart (one of the sources I use in my “Learning Organization” PLN): How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?
Hart, whose blog posts often contain quite informative visuals, notes that people who are independent (willing) learners will learn regardless of teaching methodology. Unwilling learners, on the other hand, expect to be taught. Since instructional designers and trainers try to motivate the unwilling, their methods often frustrate their more willing classmates. She also observes that there are those who are willing to learn but don’t know how to learn independently. What they need is direction - “help to revive their innate ability to learn.” Finally Hart notes that unwilling, traditional (directed) learners need help in becoming self-directed, finding suitable learning styles, and help in taking responsibility and accountability for their own learning. [There is a lesson for teachers in Hart’s message: one size cannot fit all learners.]

Learner Characteristics
What Learners Need
Sharon Boller, a well-respected instructional design guru, notes in her response to Hart’s blog the importance of creating a “self-directed environment.” She also observes that “information overload is not conducive to a self-directed approach to learning.” On the corporate side, she perceives “The luxury of time is an essential ingredient to a self-directed learning approach. You need time to explore, time to make some mistakes, time to reflect on what it is you are learning. Corporate America is very short on time. Hence, I think we’ve evolved directed approaches to learning that try to minimize the time required for people to learn…. I also think we do a poor job in corporate American at distinguishing what we truly need for people to learn to do and what we simply want them to be able to find/locate as they need it. So we create overly elaborate learning solutions for things that we don’t really intend for people to remember and under-cut the learning situations that need to be far more robust for people to truly gain skill or in-depth knowledge.”
The moral of this story for teachers is to focus on problem-solving, rather than on facts that can be referenced when needed.

Source: Hart, Jane. "How do we deal with unwilling corporate learners?." Learning in the Social Workplace. N.p., 22 Sept. 2013 Web. 22 Sept. 2013. <>.

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