These days, the ability to achieve deep, meaningful learning seems more and more of a challenge. Hamstrung as we are by an ever growing mountain of content, dwindling attention spans, fewer available hours of focused energy, and pressure to prove results, it’s a wonder anyone can truly learn anything anymore.
Some say we can’t, and that increasingly .. we aren’t.
Rather than piling more fuel on the pyre of discontent, I’ve begun to focus my energy on new ideas in the learning space. For most of the last 4 years I have been reading, researching, and discussing the challenges. Much of that has happened over at the #k12 #ecosys, where deep & insightful discussions continue.
The result? It certainly remains a work in progress. But I’ve begun to put increasing stock on how to drive a synthesis across professional practices that claim much of the high ground on what it means to learn: KM, OD and Education in particular. Here’s a discussion framework that has emerged out of these conversations.
What do I mean by these? I’ll offer a working definition of each, in the context of “learning how to learn”:
- KM – Knowledge management, a business practice from the 90′s that seeks to define, capture, and reuse knowledge across an organization, helping its members to share and ultimately learn from past achievements
- OD – Organizational development, a business discipline most commonly in HR (human resources) that seeks to increase the productive capacity of the people and teams within the organizations walls
- Education – the immensely broad ecosystem of teaching professionals across K12, colleges and universities, deeply immersed in the art and science (mostly science) of helping our young people learn
Challenge me here. Is this a good foundation?
Assuming so, would cross-pollination of experts like this be unthinkable? It seems daunting on the surface. Getting experts working together is hard work, as I’ve explored throughout The DNA of Collaboration. But to me, crossing these boundaries is precisely the challenge. We must work together to redefine the problems in solvable ways. It means changing the stakes so that all the generations around us .. Boomers, X, Y, Z and beyond .. can embrace new ways to learn how to learn.
In the face of increasing pressures for results, seemingly ‘soft’ initiatives like these are often scaled back, reducing our capacity to learn and to innovate at precisely the wrong moment.
What are some of the requirements in gaining cross-disciplinary cooperation and teamwork?
- Intention and focus - to define what it means to learn deeply, and to establish new benchmarks for what is possible and achievable
- Cultures that evolve - fostering new levels of trust, risk-taking and collaboration, so they might earn a more venerable status: ‘cultures of learning’
- Solution language – that help insights and ideas emerge and converge into fundamentally new possibilities
- Releasing the flow of insight – surrendering structure to more organic and adaptive methods of exchange
Working across professional disciplines exposes visible fault lines. Many are deeply entrenched in decades of research and practice, convinced that the only path to success is the one they learned in grad school. For some, their deeply held convictions will need to be left by the door.
In terms of some key ideas, what might we be talking about? Here’s just a starter list of topics, to spark the synapses ..
- Evolution of Teacher/Learner - teachers that learn; learners that teach
- Learning Cultures – how do we foster them?
- Weaving a Collaborative Learning Fabric – discussing now at CDNA G+ Community
- Self-Selection and Ownership - customization of the learning agenda
- Motivation and Growth Mindset - removing fear of not-knowing
- White space – exploring and exposing the creative urge
- Social, Team & Project-based Learning – is all learning truly social?
- Key Stakeholder Roles - including Community involvement, and the notion of Resilience
- Open Knowledge Frameworks – via a 21st century read of Kant
- Virtual Environments - the purposeful evolution of distance learning and e-Learning
Under the hashtag #cdna (for “collaboration DNA”) we have begun to explore what it means to learn deeply and learn together, across all the contexts described here. To get at the issues more directly, we will use this space, related posts on the book site, and other spaces (join our CDNA G+ Community) to expand on what we mean by the practice of KM, OD and Education in the context of learning.
Change demands new thinking. And as you likely know by now, that is the sort of discussion that keeps me up at night. I would love your input and ideas.
My fear is that increasing numbers will someday fail to learn how to learn. It’s a slippery slope with serious implications.
We’ve got work to do.