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Designating 'Learning Days' Sends the Wrong Message

By Bob Little / April 2010

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Designating 'Learning Days' Sends the Wrong Message

April 6, 2010

While it has not been announced with a great fanfare of publicity there is, nonetheless, a strong rumour that National Learning at Work Day 2010 in the U.K. will take place on May 20 as part of Adult Learners' Week. Apparently, the day is about workplaces making a commitment to learning and skills by holding events and activities for their employees.

Held each May, and now in its 19th year, Adult Learners' Week aims to celebrate learning and learners in all their diversity, recognizing the achievements of individuals, groups, families, and projects through national and regional awards. Adult Learners' Week is celebrated in more than 50 countries across the world and is coordinated by its founding association, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

Designating a day, or even a week, as special to adult learning or learning at work gives the distinct impression to those who aren't "learning professionals" that learning can—or, worse still, should—only take place at that time.

Yet all of us need to learn something new every day to not only develop our knowledge, skills, and expertise, but also stop us from becoming bored and depressed with our function in life.

We don't need an "Adult Learners' Week" and a "National Learning at Work Day" because learning at work or anywhere is not something that we turn on and off. Rather, it's something we should be doing all the time.

Moreover, having these events or recognized days completely sends the wrong message to the CEOs, FDs, and other business worthies. These are the people whom the corporate learning world needs to convince that learning‐both in the formal and informal sense‐needs to be part and parcel of everyday business life, not something "special" that is an added cost in terms of time and money for workers and their managers who are already under pressure to be ever more productive, doing more with less.

About the Author
For more than 20 years, Bob Little has specialized in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning—especially e-learning—and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Contact Bob at [email protected].


  • Mon, 29 Nov 2010
    Post by Craig D. Howard

    I've been teaching in college contexts since the mid 90's; most of those have been somehow blended situations, and some completely online. What has struck me about the UoP design is that, being 100% online as it seems, how do they deal with the larger character development issues? From what I have experienced, there's the crux of it, the perpetual wrench in the system that cannot be overcome. When so much about education is developing the person beyond the performance objectives, how could this design overcome the obstacle of the "lean" communication format? A degree, as opposed to simply imbibing content in the form of skills competencies in courses, is so much more than just getting the content right. I am yet to come across any discipline where objectively written performance objectives, however well attained, can trump the greater goal of learning the way a certain group of people think, and being able to replicate that form of thinking. Synchronous or asynchronous, I am yet to see a format where there is enough give and take to learn these types of more nuanced pragmatic competencies. Where do you see UoP going in that regard, and for that matter, the future of all online programs who are charged with creating *better people*?

  • Tue, 17 Aug 2010
    Post by Allison Rossett

    I didn't know that UoP did such extensive and long lasting development of its instructors. Bravo to that. Much there for brick and mortar institutions to emulate.

    UoP responses to financial pressures, or to pursuit of more profit, or both, is not unfamiliar. More students crammed into classes. More pressure to "please" students with good grades. More squeezing of faculty salaries. We have seen all of this before-- and expect to see it going forward.

    Quality and efficiency. How to do both? Doesn't sound as if UoP has it figured out, not yet.

  • Tue, 13 Apr 2010
    Post by Terry Freedman

    Reminds me of a notice I saw in a section of a school a few years ago: "You are now entering a learning zone". It made me wonder what all the other 'zones' were in that case.