Wednesday, April 06, 2005

O Chame

Yesterday I hosted a discussion of Informal Learning at a pleasant Japanese-California fusion restaurant in West Berkeley.

Paul, Kevin, Clark, yo
paul kevin clark jay

Paul has been teaching at the School for Information Management at Cal. The classrooms are totally wired. The internet knocks down the walls of the classroom. A student asked Paul a question he'd received on IM from someone not attending.

Another time he was teaching in a MOO sponsored by PARC. There are no way to discern who was in the session. One student summarized how a particular expert would have interpreted an issue. The expert was listening in. It was a replay of the incident where Woody Allen brings out Marshall McLuhan to refute a windy Columbia professor standing behind him in line for a movie.

Formal vs informal. 99% of the talk about learning is talk about teaching. Explore the concept of informal teaching. We spoke of learning as jumping through hoops. Formal means the teacher owns the hoop. Once upon a time, the objective of school was to mold students so they would be able to earn a living.

Tony O shows an increasing shift from formal to informal. This parallels the shift from hardware to software.

We judge learning by its outcomes. What are people learning when they're not learning what we want them to? Kevin related the story of a poor Thai rice farmer who lived in a small village with no television, no electricity, and little contact with the outside world. Kevin asked him why he didn't grow two crops a year. Why? Why improve? The farmer is happy as he is.

Kevin asks students to explain the difference between training, development, education, and learning. There's no correct answer.

What's learning? Memorable change of behavior given the same situation as before.

Paul: Quality of information, not just quantity.

One remote group in India survived the tsunami because the head man remembered his grandfather's advice: if you see the fish, head for the hills.

Changing times? No, the fundamentals still apply. Competition and collaboration are contextually defined.

Learning styles. Some read & listen. Others draw. Some cannot abide lecture.

Toyota wins because they focus on a different outcome. GM (and Robt Kaplan and much of America) focus on meeting a goal. Toyota focuses on capability & process.

Every situation is at least a play within a play. In this case, we hit:

All of us are smarter than any of us.
Groups outperform individuals.
Gigondas is an ideal vin for lubricating discussion.
Eating outdoors is a great catalyst for conversation.

Who's next?

I think you slightly mischaracterize my (potential mis-) characterization of Tony's model. I've got a slightly richer representation , as part of a bigger diagram from Educational Technology (43, 1, pp 12-19).

The point being not a general trend from formal to informal, but a requirement to move to informal as you moved up in expertise. Great dinner/conversation, BTW; thanks!
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