Workforce Development Thoughts 03/16

Education in Aotearoa is changing fast. Some of us may still remember the days of chalkboards and logarithm tables, which have most recently been replaced by data projectors and tablets. But more than just the technologocial advances that these changes represent, there have also been significant changes in how we understand and approach learning and development. Old models of an expert at the front imparting knowledge to a group of passive learners, are being challenged by more collaborative and learner-driven models.

So what could this mean for how we try to develop our employees, volunteers, and even church-goers? Here are some questions for you to ponder which you may wish to respond to below…

  1. Are the learning models for our staff, volunteers and even churchgoers keeping up with these changes in educational approach? Specifically; do our learners have a say over what they want to learn, and how they want to achieve it? Is their prior knowledge and experience respected and utilized as a vital element for the group? Are we helping them to transfer any learning back into real scenarios in their world?
  2. What would learning look like in our workplaces if the responsibility to discover new things transferred from the front of the room to the group itself? And what would it look like in our corps/centres?
  3. Our biggest chunk of learning actually happens outside of formal learning programmes, as we work out how to overcome everyday problems, talk to colleagues, read a magazine article, or via any manner of other informal learning activities. Do we ever try to acknowledge, capture, and utilize this learning? How could we help each other to use and share this knowledge with each other?

Does this resonate with you? Or you disagree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

About bcmnz

Official blog of The Salvation Army Booth College of Mission, in Upper Hutt, New Zealand.
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2 Responses to Workforce Development Thoughts 03/16

  1. I like what is going on in this post and not only because I like Phil. The only hesitation I have is how learning is seemingly still coupled to instrumentalism… Phil asks, how could ‘we’ (and who becomes this ‘we’ is critical to this conversation) ‘utilize this learning’? Is this limiting learning to what is (and is not) ‘useful’? Knowing Phil, probably not, but who decides what is ‘useful’ or, for that matter, what is (not) useless? Is not some of the difficulty ‘we’re’ having with learning precisely because someone has already defined not only what is ‘useful’ learning but how this learning should be taught to make it ‘useful’? My question to Phil’s question is, how can ‘we’ expand learning past what is ‘useful’? Could a learning that is not limited to ‘usefulness’ help stretch not only what is considered as learning but how ‘we’ create open spaces where this ‘other’ learning could be shared?

    • bcmnz says:

      Aww shucks Malcolm. Thanks for that.
      Great questions. And very pertinent given the qualification-crazy nature of education these days where the only learning that is valued is that which gains credit towards a registered qualification or some form of employment incentive.
      One of the things I love about the newer approaches to education is the autonomy that learners have over their own learning. So rather than ‘us’ deciding what is going to be useful, learners get to decide for themselves, and are empowered to pursue that.
      But the other factor which I think that you’re getting at, is how do we open up spaces to allow learners to encounter something completely unexpected (or ‘useless’?). This is a huge risk for anyone putting on a learning event, as whilst that may be useful for some, others may see it as wasted time, and demand better value for their time/money. Or is this ‘useless’ learning better explored in more informal settings and/or how would that be adequately encouraged/resourced?

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