Saturday, December 20, 2014

Learning these days

It is indeed the age of the autodidact and the world is filled with Ekalavyas. It is fascinating to see how they learn - especially on the things that they are motivated about.

There is new fad called the Rainbow Loom that has somewhat taken the kids by storm. This involves making things using special rubber bands which are I think specially manufactured for this purpose. (I say that, because the rubber bands are better in quality than the cheap ones we are used to and have some designs on it - among other things).

There is an entire body of knowledge on the internet on the design of these bands. It has its own jargon - with names for the design. There are a million youtube videos from which they learn. The process is also fueled by somewhat of a social component. The kids talk and show each other the newest designs they have learnt to make and they come home and try out new stuff. All in all it fuels a vicious cycle of learning and creativity.

This is the nature of learning in almost any group exercise - a cycle of positive competition and learning.

There is almost no formal teacher for this process - at least not in the conventional way. There is nobody giving instructions, no curriculum, no framework. Every kid, depending on his or her motivation does what he or she feels like doing.  Of course, only a small fraction of even the known universe is into this.

Predictably, other school kids are into other things, but I am sure the approach is similar.

This is the generation that will enter colleges soon and I suppose some of the earliest entrants of this generation are already in the workforce.

How do we train them. How do we harness that virtuous cycle of positive competition to create a learning organization? How do we ensure that learners stay motivated and keep wanting to outdo, not each other, but themselves? Do we even ensure? Or do we let the process take charge? And if so, what would that process look like?

Notice that in this whole story, there is a notable absence of trainers - there are no trainers - only practitioners. There is also a complete absence of curriculums or structure - it is like a buffet without designated start and end points - users pick what they want, when they want and go about it. Also note the complete lack of goals. I think that is three strikes against any corporate program with its trainers, curriculum and goals.

While, it scares the exalted training community - it is important to bear this thought in mind - that this is the reality. Are we prepared for it? And even if we are, are systems prepared for it? Really? Is it even possible to replicate this? All interesting questions!

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