Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning And Knowledge ...

I came across a blog post by Luis about how the fields of Learning and Knowledge are essentially partners in the learning process. This is something i have been thinking about, and writing, for some time. Luis points out that with the emergence of social software, the two functions can walk hand in hand in the corporate environment.

I agree that the idea of the two functions is complementary to each other. And Luis has it spot on, because it is with the emergence of social software that the importance of networks (whether formal or informal) as a learning tool in the organization is becoming more apparent. However, the idea of the complementarity of the two functions is something which, to my mind, predates the idea of social software.

Lets look at it this way ... what is the goal of a Learning function. The idea is basically to get people to be more effective in doing their work, to enable them to be able to deliver work in more effective manner. Now, lets see what is the goal of Knowledge Management? Again, it is to enable people to be able to deliver their work in a more effective manner. Question ... how can this be achieved? By having a scenario where the people are able to learn from their work, learn from the work of others, and incorporate this learning into their work. Now, the question is, what is the difference between the two? While there are differences in the way the two functions approach this, the basic objective is the same. Hence, while the approaches may be different, the goals being the same, at a basic level, the two functions must complement each other.

Let me take an example ... and we will start this example from the Training aspect. Suppose someone comes out after attending a training. They have learnt some concepts (at least thats what Training managers are assuming). They are in a position to apply these concepts into their work. Which is nice. But, does learning stop the moment you come out of the classroom? Or, if you take e-learning, does learning stop the moment you complete the course? No it doesnt. And this is where KM must complement the Training aspect.

And this is where i agree with Luis that social software needs to play a role. In addition to the role of bringing out the value which can be delivered by networks, social software must be in a position to connect people with networks which can add value to the training they have attended, by enabling them to build upon the training. As such, this needs to be a process which must continue even after the training is over. Taking this one step further (or back, depending on where you are standing), social software is also emerging as a tool for training delivery itself. By enabling organizations to build communities of learners (and i am not just talking about people attending training, but in the larger sense of the term), social software can enlarge the scope of learning, as also deliver it in much more meaningful ways. As i had written in my earlier post, social software can be used to source content (this is not just about structured training material ... one learns a lot from blogs, too), as well as to connect people. One step further would be to use social software to identify the concepts or training that is required to solve a particular problem.

No comments: