I was wandering through classmates’ delicious bookmarks and found this document from Nick Shackleton-Jones of the BBC. He starts with describing formal v. informal learning, but the interesting bit comes later.

Shackleton-Jones suggests that the keys to learning are challenge and importance.  He writes :

..with formal learning there is often no immediate challenge and the imminent importance to learners is low (although senior people may feel differently). This may sound like common sense, but the answer to the question ‘what is important?’ is not as obvious as one might imagine.

This statement resonated with me because of a conversation I had with a colleague yesterday about encouraging instructors to use new technology.  They pointed out that adoption will happen when there is perceived benefit.  The example they gave was that teachers adopt elearning models because it gives them schedule flexibility.

Shackleton-Jones proposes an awareness-resource model, where the primary purpose of formal instruction/training is to raise learner awareness of when to go out into a PLE and seek information. The actual providing of the information moves out of the formal instructional setting and into a combination of  trainer/instructor designed resources and learners trolling their own networks for the needed information.

I wonder if this is a hard sell in an education environment full of those who expect the traditional model of the instructor/trainer providing the information directly.

Also, what do you do when the benefit to the tutor/instructor is a less tangible one related to improved student learning?  We’ve all at one time or another spent many hours preparing a 45 minute training or conference presentation, so such things do happen.  How do those of us who provide instructional support lower the cost (including instructor time and energy spent learning new tools and redesigning)/ benefit (improved student outcomes and warm feelings, but these don’t give you more money in the bank or more time w/ your kids) ratio so more of this happens?

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