Saturday, June 13, 2009

Do people need training on how to learn?

Scenario: Of late, my friend and colleague J has been frequently asking me how I use Twitter to learn. This is post a tweet I had put up saying "I have learned more from Twitter in the past three months than I did through formal training sessions in the past three years."

"Huh!" he says,"...that's all very well. But how?" I showed him the Twitter site, asked him to create an account and explore. He created an account, tinkered around for a bit and came back to ask, "What next?"

"Follow people who interest you..." was my somewhat brusque response. I wanted him to explore on his own and figure it out. Also, having recently finished reading Sugata Mitra's Hole in the Wall, I was full of minimally invasive learning.

Being more of a friend than colleague, he shamelessly came back a third time--this time with a solution to his problem.

Settling himself down back to front on the chair next to my workstation, he gave me the following suggestion. "Create a flow chart of the steps we need to follow to use social networking sites like Twitter to not only socialize but also to learn." His matter-of-fact tone left me somewhat speechless. Next words I spoke were, "There are half a zillion "How to use Twitter" videos, pdfs, sites, posts, articles on the web. Check those out."

"Don't you see, they are all about How to use Twitter, not about how to learn from it. And they are too scattered for a beginner like me to hunt down, read, assimilate and apply..."

I shooed him away, got myself a cup of coffee and got back to the Needs Analysis questionnaire I was creating for a project, the deadline pressing down on me.

But something he had said nagged me, set me thinking.

My dilemma: Do we need to "train" people how to "learn"? As dichotomous as that sounds, I couldn't get rid of the niggling voice that said, "Yes."

I would love to hear responses, feedback, comments.

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