A conscious learning process
How can we make learning more real? How can we bring our work context into our learning environment? How can we be more strategic about our learning, and our capability to learn?
In previous posts, I described a way of looking at learning and learning to learn (see image above, and post “On learning to learn“). Now, let’s look at how we can organise that in (and around) a learning process, like a training programme.
I realise that within organisations, learning does not only take place in training programmes. In fact, there are more and more signals that the effect of formal learning interventions on on the job performance might be smaller than we have always thought. However, that gives me all the more reason to focus on how we can increase the value of a training programme. And actually, where it says ‘training programme’ in the image below, it could also say ‘learning opportunity’.
Alright, let me explain the picture. First of all, I think the learning process should start and end in ‘the real world’, linking actual work-issues to the training content (start up phase), and vice versa (transfer). We should be conscious of the relevance of our learning (x2) to our performance on the job (x). We can do that by bringing a personal story or case of what we do in our job to the training, or to make an action plan at the end of the training. Pretty straightforward so far.
Slightly less straightforward however, is to ask people, just before they are joining the programme, to draft a learning plan. Thinking about how you normally do things, and then thinking about what potentially you could do differently I think is a good starting point for developing yourself, to have an open mind to changing your ways.
Something even more rare is to take some time at the beginning of a learning event to discuss how to learn more effectively (learning to learn, x3). Planning your approach to learning, and making some clear choices on that (e.g. to fight bias, to listen better than normal, to check your assumptions), could increase the value of the learning experience.
Probably the biggest challenge would be to make these things common for performance in general, not only for training programmes. My aim would be to be a ‘conscious learner’ at all times, regularly checking how I can improve the way I do things, and how to increase my learning capability.
Q: Do you follow? How could we facilitate this ‘conscious learning’ process?