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September 26, 2012


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Great post Ellen and awesome commentary Jay. I really appreciate that mention of LMS vendor thinking they get informal learning by tracking social media interactions.

Jay Cross

Ellen, thanks for the reminder of the Prensky quote. Marc's right on target in describing doctrinaire instructional designers.

Your post also rekindled the memory of Stephen Downes eloquently dismantling the twisted logic of three European professors who had written that in the absence of instructionally designed experiences, people were incapable of learning.

True believers live in fantasyland, no matter which side of the argument they take. Reality resides between structure and chaos, not at either extreme.

I've lived this one ever since I began arguing in favor of paying more attention to serendipitous and unsanctioned learning. For years, I have called for more balance between formal and informal learning.

I've never said that all learning should be informal. In fact, that would be a terrible idea. Yet as soon as I write that we'd be wise to help people learn through conversation and experience as well as attending classes, Allison and others retort that they don't want to go to a doctor who skipped med school or fly with an unlicensed pilot. Me neither. But I want a physician who continues to learn by talking with other doctors and a pilot who discusses flying with other pilots.

You say that "When someone tells you that an idea is a little early for their stakeholders....it doesn't mean he or she "don't get it", nor does it necessarily mean that she or he is a pin-headed, short-sighted idiot."

Maybe so, maybe not.

When someone tells me that their organization is not ready to adopt informal learning, it DOES mean that they don't get it. Informal learning already exists in all organizations. The issue is not whether or not to adopt it but whether to leave it to chance or nurture it.

When an advisory firm asks if you are ready to start your informal learning journey, they don't get it.

When consultants tell me they have a system to measure and control social learning, they don't get it.

When an LMS vendor tacks blogging and forums onto a glorified database and claims its "social LMS" will track informal learning, they don't get it.

Visionary awesomeness is never enough. The discipline of structure is never enough. Balance trumps extremism.

Janet Clarey

Brava. Well said.

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