The Benefits of Experience
Knowledge Alone is Not Learning

By Bob Little / October 2009

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Comments (10) Instapaper

The next most important factor is what the tutor or instructional designer does before the learning takes place, and the third key factor is what the manager does after the learning has taken place.

Giving people new knowledge and skills is way down the list.

That finding comes from research revealed at a recent eLearning Network meeting [PDF] in London by Charles Jennings, recently retired as chief learning officer at Thomson Reuters and now heading up the Duntroon consultancy.

Quoting Columbia University's Eric Kandel, Jennings said, "Real learning is the ability to acquire new ideas from experience and retain them as memories. Acquiring knowledge is not real learning. It's just the first easy step in the process. Formal learning can only give us 10 percent of our learning and feedback. Coaching and sharing—learning from others—can only give us 20 percent. The other 70 percent comes from experience."

Jennings went on to outline eight factors which, he believes, underpin any effective learning strategy. "Real 'adult learning' is a product of experiences, practice, conversations and reflection," he said.

"Learning strategy must align with business strategy in that it must be business driven, scaleable, innovative, effective and efficient, and cost-constrained. It must be based on 'new world' thinking and practice—moving from the world of 'push'-mandated learning models to 'pull': personalized, collaborative, user-generated, flexible, new media-delivered forms of learning.

"You have to take 'generational thinking' into account, realizing that the [Baby] Boomer Generation's consumer, teacher/lecture-based, autocratic approach to learning is being replaced by Generation Y's belief in learning that is co-created, self-directed, online 24x7, interactive and collaborative," he added.

"Moreover, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) impacts all we do. And there is increasing VUCA in the world," he said. "In addition, workplace dynamics are changing, in terms of working routines, resources, and behaviors.

"Knowledge retention is no longer a key differentiator for knowledge workers. Indeed, 'unlearning' useless and outdated skills could be a key skill in the 21st century.

Access to knowledge, especially at the point of need, is now a key differentiator for knowledge workers because it provides them with a competitive edge," Jennings concluded.

Jennings' perceptive insights are, of course, based on many years of experience, which, after all, seems to be the key to real learning, if not wisdom.

Comments

  • Thu, 10 Jun 2010
    Post by Beth Gruenbaum

    Hi Craig. Thank you for your constructive criticism. I can see how it may be confusing as to the type of article. I did realize that there was a "we did it this way" air to the article. However, what I meant to do was explain that this was how we did it in a physical site-based environment while also giving suggestions on how this would or would not work in a virtual environment. I did feel that I gave a significant amount of information on how to translate PLC practices to an online environment, thus implying that the reader should do it that way. Therefore, I did feel that I was incorporating both approaches within the article. I can see why you would like more of a "how to" approach. I just feel that unfortunately with this topic it would be difficult to provide a strictly "how to" article because, while there is a lot of information out there on PLCs, there is not much out there regarding Virtual PLCs and there has not been much research completed on this topic as this branch of the field is really very new. I hope this helps clarify why I went the way I did with the article. Again, thank you for your feedback! Kind regards, Beth

  • Thu, 10 Jun 2010
    Post by Beth Gruenbaum

    Hi Amy, The book that we started our book club with was DuFour, Eaker and DuFour's (2005) On Common Ground: The Power of Professional Learning Communities. Best regards, Beth

  • Wed, 09 Jun 2010
    Post by Amy Lawson

    Hi Beth, what was the book about PLCs that you chose to begin the book club? Thanks! Amy L.

  • Tue, 08 Jun 2010
    Post by Craig Howard

    This was an interesting article. When I first read the title I thought it was going to be an instructional theory. But as I read it, there was a substantial amount of "we did it this way" without implying that the reader should do it that way. That's the language of a design study, at least in how I see it. If you don't mind some positive and hopefully constructive criticism here, i think it would help us all in this field to make the distinction between the two approaches. That's doesn't mean the two can't be placed into one article, but the field is in great need of "how to" articles" and that's somehow different from a "we did it this way" design article. I like to see articles like these, and as we get more of them, maybe the distinction will be more adopted and we can all benefit from the more precise language of the scholarly writing.

  • Sun, 06 Jun 2010
    Post by Beth Gruenbaum

    Thank you for your compliment! I'm glad I could add to your knowledge base regarding the subject. Best, Beth Gruenbaum

  • Tue, 01 Jun 2010
    Post by Admin classes LA

    I love this article, very good! so much info in there, learnt a lot!

  • Tue, 25 May 2010
    Post by Beth Gruenbaum

    Hi Kelsey, I'm sorry. I don't understand what your question is referring to. Please clarify. Are you asking a question about the article or something else? Kind regards, Beth Gruenbaum

  • Sat, 22 May 2010
    Post by kelsey

    how?what is elearn help me understand.

  • Tue, 06 Oct 2009
    Post by Bob Little

    While endorsing Barb's sentiments, I would also want to add that there are eight underpinning principles of learning strategy that need to be taken into account when planning learning & development activities: " Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) impacts all we do  and there is increasing VUCA in the world. " Workplace dynamics are changing  in terms of working routines, resources and behaviors. " Real adult learning is a product of experiences, practise, conversations and reflection. " Learning and development strategy must align with business strategy in that it must be business driven; scaleable; innovative; effective and efficient, and cost-constrained. " Learning strategy must be based on new world thinking and practise  moving from the world of push, mandated learning models to pull, personalized, collaborative, user-generated, flexible, new media delivered forms of learning. " Generational thinking must be taken into account  realizing that the boomer generations consumer, teacher/lecture-based, autocratic approach to learning is being replaced by Generation Ys belief in learning that is co-created, self-directed, online 24 x 7; interactive and collaborative. " Knowledge retention is no longer a key differentiator for knowledge workers. Indeed, unlearning useless and outdated skills could be a key skill in the 21st century. " Access to knowledge  especially at the point of need - is now a key differentiator for knowledge workers because it provides them with a competitive edge.

  • Tue, 06 Oct 2009
    Post by Barb

    I think this information about a manager's role fits right into the template for managing change that we are developing. I agree that the manager's actions both before and after the training always impacts the results. If the student feels that no one cares what they learn, the knowledge is not retained and changed performance is very hard to achieve.