ABlogAbout: Learning Ecosystems

In my work, I’m driving to implement our design innovation strategy. We call it “Bob.” more about the name another time. It’s all about the ecosystem, man! Jay Cross (Informal Learning evangelist) talks about learnscaping. His work here is fascinating. He uses terms like ecology… and ecosystems.  This is exactly the phrase we have settled on in my company. Last summer, we came up with a plan to create learning ecosystems.

I think of it this way – there is one, grand learning ecosystem at the company. Much of it is the unspoken way that we communicate and learn, the things we already do quite naturally. I pop in to the cube next door when I don’t quite get something I’m trying to do on the web. I have a trusted advisor I turn to for coaching, and I have a peer I turn to when I need to brainstorm. I search for information internally, search for information externally. I ponder to myself, try things out in my job to see if I’m “getting it.” On occasion, I add something a bit more formal to the mix.

So in the grand scheme of things, the ecosystem Just Is. But how I focus my lens in order to engage in the ecosystem changes. Sometimes I’m looking through a wide-angle lens, sometimes I’m looking through the microscope. Sometimes, the camera on my phone is adequate.  🙂  We call these ecosystems too. Could be a content ecosystem, or an ecosystem focused on my peers in my business group. I need ways to filter and focus the ecosystem to meet my emergent needs and interests.

There is plenty of debate in the learning world about whether you leave the informal learning ecosystem alone – let people make their way as they always have – or whether there is a role for those of us in the corporate learning world. Why can’t we meld the two – traditional or “sponsored” learning with the opportunities and natural process associated with informal learning? I deeply believe there is a role there – that we can assists and engage without inhibiting the nature of the ecosystem.

So that’s my goal. I’m off and running. As with most endeavors associated with informal learning (or learning in general these days!) – it’s messy. I don’t know “The Best” place to start. So I’m just diving in head first, ready to swim with the dolphins.

Another note: In my last (first) post, I mentioned a podcast I’d done as part of the Extreme Learning Lab at the Masie Center. I decided not to post this just yet, but I did post some photos up on Flickr. Have a look!

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