The Future of Learning in Organizations

The Future of Learning in Organizations

We learn to do by doing

“When we were small, all we had, was only a GAMEBOY, look at all the gadgets you have today”.

This was part of a conversation that my 15 year old son and his friends were having with their playmates who happened be a few years younger to them – my guess not more than 3-4 years younger. Apparently, these veterans were telling the younger ones how deprived they were as children in terms of gadgets and technology!

Oh yeah, what about us? All we had was just OURSELVES when we were young and some ingenious games that we made up to amuse ourselves. But that is not the point I am trying to arrive at right now. I am just wondering how technology is driving the way we lead our lives today. If it is driving the way children play these days, quite naturally, we can’t exclude the way they learn in today’s world.

Sugata Mitra won a prize for his TED talk on “The future of learning”. He shares the experiment that he had done about how the children successfully ‘taught themselves’ when left on their own. They were more resourceful and creative in the process and came up with many surprising solutions to questions that were posed to them with minimal intrusion from adults. He shared a vision of setting up a “school in the cloud” so that no child is deprived of knowledge sharing and learning.

Honestly, the same is applicable to employees in organizations. Why should only a privileged few be selected to attend instructor-led training programs? Why should the majority be deprived of knowledge just because of logistical and financial reasons? Sugata in fact refrains from using the word instruction/instructor or teacher because, he feels the children learn themselves and they just need a facilitator to guide them. We no longer can TEACH children, they tap into their innate curiosity to learn, explore and discover knowledge. Why are we still using Instructor-led training in organizations for adults who are far more experienced and can add value by sharing their knowledge and experiences? Knowledge is no longer given in a top-down approach. Knowledge is shared. Why are we not shedding the garb worn during industrial era, when the current format of training was designed – and for what its worth is no longer relevant in today’s times?

I am not suggesting a complete absence of face to face interactions. We are after all social animals and we need to meet and talk to each other at a physical level. However, it need not be the only form of interaction – particularly when we have other modes of communication and interaction.

Quite a few organizations have started online universities to help their employees further their knowledge. Just as Sugata envisioned a School in the cloud, organizations might take their trainings to the cloud in the form of a “Center for Learning in the cloud” so that no employee is deprived of knowledge. If we don’t train the Gen Z, or whatever they are called, they will ensure it is done for them. What do you say?

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