The value of social networks for learning is that they help create trust paths to share ideas, advice and feelings between people who care. Jane Hart has developed five categories for social learning:
IOL – Intra-Organizational Learning – keeping the organization up to date and up to speed on strategic and other internal initiatives and activities
GDL – Group Directed Learning – groups of individuals working in teams, projects, study groups, etc Even two people working together in a coaching and mentoring capacity
PDL – Personal Directed Learning – individuals organizing and managing their own personal or professional learning
ASL – Accidental & Serendipitous Learning – individuals learning without consciously realizing it (aka incidental or random learning)
FSL – Formal Structured Learning – formal education and training like classes, courses, workshops, etc (both synchronous and asynchronous)
I previously looked at these categories as being either Undirected, Self-Directed or Directed (from the outside):
My colleagues at ITA have been discussing the use of words like informal; formal; social; directed; and autonomous and how much they add to enabling better learning in organizations. My moment in the shower this morning sparked this idea as a way to describe and categorize activities related to learning for work:
Dependent Learning (FSL) – direction is required in terms of objectives, curriculum, expertise and facilitation. The learner is dependent on others.
Independent Learning (ASL & PDL) - self-motivated people can get what they need in the manner they want
Interdependent Learning (GDL & IOL) – learning that requires connecting to others and cannot be done alone.
For workplace learning, especially in complex environments, I would want to support interdependent learning as much as possible, as this would create a more resilient learning community, not dependent on any individual nor any formal training program. I would also encourage independent learners to share what they know so that the best learners could set an example. I would minimize dependent learning because it is obviously a cost centre and too much dependent learning may adversely influence mastery of independent and interdependent learning.
Now we can ask the CEO – do you want us to focus our energies on encouraging dependent, independent or interdependent workers?