If you are involved with KM, you likely will have reflected on the connection(s) between learning and knowledge.
Here are thoughts from Anecdote shared in their monthly newsletter:
- people don't think they've learned anything until they've reflected on what happened.The learning comes at this point of reflecting not in the act of work in many cases.
- learning is social—it benefits from conversations. Learning richness increases as multiple perspectives are described, discussed, challenged and explored.
- learning is social, intellectual and emotional. It's no coincidence that we are better able to recall stories (our experiences) when they are attached to strong emotions.
- we learn through experience, and experience is shared through stories. I remember spending 2 months researching the geomorphology of macro-tidal rivers. I then spent six weeks in the Ord River in Western Australia only to learn that it is never as clear as the diagrams in the text books make it out.
- we learn best when there is a reason to learn—I think this is an important aspect of sense-making. We are awash with experience and information and we only notice things we care about.
- we get better at what we learn through practice. It takes about 10 years the be proficient, perhaps expert, in a practice. But action without reflection through conversation doesn't build proficiency.
- we all have different learning preferences and ways of interacting.I invited everyone to arrange themselves along an imaginary line. At one end were those people who would prefer to avoid technology, even the phone was something they didn't love using. At the other end were the techno-maniacs who love using blogs, wikis, and a raft of other web 2.0 gizmos.
Here are my learning thoughts:
The importance of cohorts
You may obtain information from the 'sage on the stage' a book or CBT, but you learn on the playing field, where your identity is forged, your opinions are tested and validated, values mediated, beliefs formed and assumptions are tested. Social mediation is key, and this is where cohorts help you make meaning and gain understanding. We own a social brain and apprenticeship is the natural way to learn. We need cohorts and community to build a shared repertoire of key concepts, evolve tools, craft language, gather stories and highlight sensitivities.
Shared meaning is the difference between personal knowing and acquired understanding or social knowledge. This is the power behind language and communication. Points to the essential role of sharing critique, alignment and reflection in learning. Meaning is established through patterning, emotions play a key role. To make meaning explicit and ensure alignment, it is essential to test assumptions.
Creating new knowledge comes from bringing forth new worlds, from agreeing and naming subtle signs, symptoms, patterns, making the connections and perceptions that enable alternative courses of action. Mostly this happens as a natural byproduct of conversations within groups and is recognized by the issues, the values, the beliefs and in the language of a community of practice. Often encoded in the 'slang' and group talk that sets the community apart. Distinctions are closely related to ontologies and to making meaning. They contribute a large measure to identity.
Deep learning, identity and dialog
Knowing is an act of participation, knowledge is more a living process that acquisition of an object, it is closely tied to who we are and emerges in dialog or through repetition, copy and practice. Lasting knowledge is knowing more than definitions, concepts and relationships, it is feeling what is right in a particular situation, requires personal engagement, passion and a community to consult with. Learning and knowledge require an ecology to thrive and evolve.
New insights arise at the boundaries between communities, connections and reflections, are key to synthesis and access to new ideas. The learning potential of an organization lies in maintaining a tension and a balance between core practices and active boundary processes. Identity and meaningfulness are the wellspring of creativity, sharing is a natural by-product of belonging. Learning is more about connection and community than content
Creative abrasion, high challenge and safety
To change your mindset you need to raise the energy levels, increase the attention and focus. This is difficult to achieve in a placid conversation. Exposure to alternative assumptions and frames, some strong advocacy, deep dialog, emotional engagement and a pure clash of ideas help to unsettle, and resettle meaning. Prior beliefs are difficult to change using classroom instruction and teaching as telling. Taken too far, increasing stress levels will reduce the learning opportunity, there is a fine balance to be maintained.
Boundary hopping and busting prototypes
The sweet spot for learning is at the boundaries of individual and community. Here you are less sure and secure , core rigidities are lower, you are flooded with new thought forms, alternative analogies and metaphors. Making connections is key and often follows trusted relationships.
You may wish to read two books covering new ways to think about learning:
George Siemens - KnowingKnowledge, November 2006
Jay Cross - Informal learning, October 2006
Please share your learning insights.