I was assembling a piece of “big box” furniture for my guest
room last week, and the experience presented a metaphor for job-related
learning. (It helps to break out of our
traditional assumptions about professional development and observe what happens
in everyday life, where we’re actually learning all the time.)
In this case, I thought about how my learning process
started, well before I opened the box and spread the pieces of my purchase over
the guest room floor. 1) My learning
started with realization of a need: my guests had no place to unpack their
clothing and other stuff. 2) I turned to
the Internet to learn what was available to solve my problem. 3) I engaged in “elearning” as I explored
various products available from online vendors.
In most cases, this was pure knowledge transfer – how did the product
look, what were the specifications, how much did it cost?
The real point of my story is that I never 4) read the “how to” instructions until my purchase arrived at my door and I prepared to
actually do something with all the “learning”
that I’d consumed previously. The
manufacturer had wisely included that learning resource for use “on the job” –
along with the phone number of a mentor at Customer Service to help me work
through the task.
In a very practical way, this experience of selecting,
purchasing and assembling my guest room cabinet reminds me that our concept of
a blended learning program must extend beyond classroom or online events and include the tools and
resources that support the trial-and-error application of new skills on the job
– wherever the work is actually done.
I’ll continue to share ways that learning can extend to the
classroom-without-walls in our next encounter…
(By the way, I did get the piece assembled on the first try
with no injury to self or property!)
By: Darlene Frederick