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From E-learning to Informal Learning and Real Learning: Thank You Jay Cross!

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From E-learning to Informal Learning and Real Learning: Thank You Jay Cross!

It was HE who gave us the term e-learning. It was HE who pointed out the significance of informal learning, that true learning takes place beyond formal learning – informally. He was in the process of sharing his thoughts about “Real Learning” when HE was taken away from us! HE is JAY CROSS!

I may not have been fortunate to meet him face to face or exchange thoughts in person. But, I was lucky enough to come across his writings almost at the same time that I started working in the e-learning domain. Since then, I have been reading his articles in Learning Solutions Magazine, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Internet Time Blog, and more similar magazines.

I have many reasons to thank Jay Cross for I learned so much from him. What is amazing is that he has predicted the possibility of informal learning using the Internet, much before social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the others became popular. He was a visionary much ahead of his times who emphasized the need to learn, unlearn, and relearn; he has continued to share is wisdom that we will guide us into the future.

Here are some random thoughts inspired by Jay Cross’s articles.

  • We can’t be so busy chopping down trees that we don’t take time to sharpen our axes. We need to re-look at our skills and tools that we use to do our job today. Are they relevant or do they need to be sharpened, upgraded, or re-looked from a different perspective?
  • Learning takes place – with or without formal training. Organizations that recognize this and facilitate hastening and smoothening the process, survive in tomorrow’s workplace. They need to create a learning ecosystem where employees can learn, share, and interact with each other easily.
  • The tools and methods that worked in the Industrial Age do not work in the Internet era. We have moved from command-and-control methods to a more collaborative working and we, as L & D professionals cannot ignore this when planning a training framework.
  • Children learn to walk, speak, and acquire other basic life skills – not through structured learning but more through informal learning. It is natural to us and this is something that organizations need to nurture and encourage in their corridors.
  • More than the need to learn, we have an urgent need to unlearn. What we learned yesterday may be irrelevant tomorrow and we need to forget and learn afresh based on the demands of tomorrow. Often our inability to unlearn pushes us back by several decades. No one knows this better than Jay Cross, who calls himself the Chief Unlearning Officer of Internet Time Alliance.
  • A top-down approach toward training may no longer work and despite the reluctance and anxiety about employee-generated content, we need to come up with a viable way to include employee-generated content as a part of training curriculum.

I was so eager to listen to him at the virtual conference – Brain Matters on 10th November and 11 November. Rightly so, the conference has been dedicated to his memory. Thank you, Jay Cross for your direction and insights that are helping us to learn and will continue to do so in the years to come.

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