Psst.. knowledge-worker? You have mad skills?
Nancy White was spurred into action by Tony Karrer’s “big question” of the month: what skills do knowledge-workers (or “learning professionals”) need (as we head into the teenies). But Tony was disappointed that Nancy listed only 4 “meta skills”:
- humility, and
- willingness to risk.
.. because Tony was looking for the technical details, the actual “how do i learn” skills. So Nancy wrote a second version, this time elaborating on the abilities to:
- scan and filter (manage the “river of information”),
- connect with other people,
- synthesise the streams of incoming data to create your own “reality frameworks”,
- ask good questions, and
- mentor people through technologies (“stewardship”).
i enjoyed both posts from Nancy. i like the way she writes, including images for every topic, keeping the chunks of information small enough to digest, adding in headings to make things more readable, connecting with her audience as she writes. i’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post on “network weaving” and “reflective practice”.
Others have weighed in..
- Drawing on a 2008 article, Harold Jarche suggests that attitude is the key: openness to sharing and constantly learning from people in your network: while it takes time to build up the trust required, he concludes that “it is now a significant disadvantage to not actively participate in social learning networks“.
- Jay Cross revisits the topic and covers a big range of teaching roles including: writer, presenter, designer, producer, moderator, connector and “learnscape architect” (i like that last one!!)
- Ken Allen reminds us to look back at the fundamentals of learning, for example Bloom’s taxonomy, and recall the importance of focussing on the learner, relevant application, available time and resources.
- Jane Bozarth tells us to first become comfortable with technologies so we can recognise them for what they can do for us, and secondly to let go of control.
- Michael Hanley reckons that learning professionals need to be able to do just about anything across these various job descriptions: communicator, consultant, learning innovator, learning technologist, human capital management strategist, business-savvy educator, learning & knowledge manager, organizational change agent.
This reminds me of a fabulous cartoon i once had with the job description of a teacher.. along the lines of: “curriculum designer, facilitator, mentor, coach, newsletter editor, publisher, film director, morale officer, police officer, nurse, sandwich maker, bus driver..”
i did like Clive Shepherd’s point that many regular teachers have decided to delegate the technical side of things to the experts. “Twenty-five years ago, every l&d professional ..would have been familiar with every medium then available, i.e. overhead projectors.. black/whiteboards, 35mm slide projectors, VCRs, etc. At some point since then, as new learning media began to proliferate, they backed out and started leaving the job to specialists. Big mistake.”
Do you ever feel like people ask you to do things because you’re the “tech person”? Things that shouldn’t be so difficult?
My overall take on skills for a “learning practitioner” is this:
- find ways to manage the incoming flow of information (eg use some tools to manage torrential flow from blogs and micro-blogs, forums, news outlets and other sources, synthesise the information for ourselves and others);
- build our ability to interact with people across a range of environments (participate in discussions, filter information flows for others in our networks, engage colleagues in the world of possibilities, improve written and spoken communication skills, share more of what we do ..eg the help files we create in our role as “technology steward”);
- remember to get things done as well as responding to the outside world (is your twitter, blog, ning etc really as important as that project timeline?) .. and
- constantly adapt to change (in our relationships with people around us, in the projects we’re doing each year, in the technological tools we need to do our job even better, in the time available and the outcomes required).