Saturday, 26 May 2007

How people really learn at work

Jay Cross tells us that 80% of learning is informal. He notes that this is supported by the Institute for Research on Learning, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Education Development Center of Massachusetts, Capitalworks, the eLearning Guild, and Canada’s National Research Network on New Approaches to Lifelong Learning.

I love to tout this figure in conversations with colleagues, many of whom are still in the “lets arrange some training” frame of mind. Training in a vacumn just doesn’t work, it needs to be embedded in working practice, to be a part of what people actually do. Many people I speak to say “the training just wasn’t about what we do here.” Hence my interest in communities of practice and situated learning, and the possibilities for leveraging them as vehicles for learning.

My research is telling me people learn most by doing the job, and by talking to colleagues. This tells me both that my feelings about informal learning, and situated learning are correct. Well, correct in terms of my subject group anyway (she said, not wishing to get into the subject of statistical validity).

Some evidence from my workplace at last, albeit limited, for concentrating on how people really learn at work.

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