First, can Tony Karrer make me feel any more like I don't do enough? Geez. His blog wins an EduBlog award last year and so what does he do? Starts another really good at Work Literacy. Thanks a lot Tony. ;-)
This month's Big Question from the Learning Circuits Blog asks, given the advent of all the 2.0 stuff:
Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?
Shouldn't they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?
And then shouldn't the learning organization become a driver for the organization?
And like in the world of libraries don't we need to market ourselves in this capacity?
Great question. Totally unfair but great question. Why unfair? Let's look at Tony's background - a top engineeer, a Ph.D. in Computer Science a history of serving as the Chief Technical Officer at several companies (why can't Tony hold a job?)...but all kidding aside...where is the academic background in pedagogy? ISD? Learning theory? Neuroscience? Look at me - not exactly in Tony's class but my background is in anthropology and history. What about the rest of you? How many 'pure breds' do we have out there? People who have come up through the academic chain with degrees in education or ISD or something else directly related to the art/science of learning?
I don't know the answer but I willing to bet that more than a few of us are mutts, crossbreeds, bizarre intellectual genetic mixes of interests, education and avocation that has somehow landed us in the learning/training field. So what's your point Mark?
My point is why are all these people without appropriate learning credentials running around this industry? You don't see anthropologists doing surgery. You don't see Ph.D's in Computer Science making great pastries (well you could, but its unlikely). Maybe the reason is that at least at an academic level/higher ed...the preparation being provided students is somewhat lacking. So it would be unfair to expect people without technical backgrounds or technology inclinations to understand and promote these new technologies in the sense that it is not what they were trained for and more than likely, not what they were hired to do. Maybe by looking around at this strange mix of talents that I think makes this such a wonderful and interesting field to work in though, offers us a potential recipe for the next-generation learning professional.
Clearly there is a need for a technical or technological side to the equation. Likewise some business classes would be great. Throw in some anthropology for studying organizational culture, definitely some stats, economics, history, neuroscience....mix together and cook for 3 years in grad school. Oh wait, I forgot...we also need the over-arching integrative context/framework for blending all these pieces together and for understanding the trade offs that will be necessary when we can't squeeze all these classes into the time available. Dign.Ding. Now there is an idea...what do you need to minimally qualified to operate in the learning field? Perhaps we concentrate classes on that..build the foundation in other words and then create an internationally-agreed upon system of Continuing Education that will allow people to move out into the field, explore it and find their own niches and then pursue the classes they need in that area to move from apprentice to journeyman to master?
So the answers to the above are all yes, an unfair yes in some cases but until we change our system of education (maybe next week?) then we must all continue to live in an unfair world.