Building a Culture of Continuous Learning – Part 1

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Building a Culture of Continuous Learning – Part 1

Over the years, whenever a conversation would turn to topics like continuing education, I would always get a chuckle in response to my standard answer: “The most important thing I learned in school is never to go back.” Looking back, it wasn’t terribly funny, and the laughs were probably just polite.

I had a boss who liked to say, “Would you go to a doctor who never picked up a medical journal or took a class after graduating?” And, while it’s a fair point, I could never quite make myself do more than flip through the occasional issue of InTech or Automation World. Plaudits to those who go back for their Masters, but it’s just not my jam.
As it turns out, casual learning has become much easier since I left school, which is great because in a magnificent twist of fate, I find myself in charge of Avanceon’s internal training and learning management. I tend to do better with “just-in-time learning” rather than the “better stuff it in your head in case you need it one day” approach.
What is just-in-time learning? It’s Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, Reddit, System Integrator blogs (my favorite), and even your smart co-worker in the next cube. It’s the concept of having on-demand access to knowledge, which can be directly applied to whatever you’re in the middle of. There are many articles online about just-in-time learning (ooh, I just went meta), but the big point is that it already exists! Communities, companies, and individuals who are smart about things publish their wisdom for various reasons: altruism, monetization, or to generate web traffic (greetings, valued reader!). But it’s there, and most folks who live in the world are already familiar with this style of learning from their personal life: “how to replace headlight in 1997 Jetta”…“hey Mom, do I add the eggs before or after I put in the dry ingredients?”
So what, then, is the job of someone who’s in charge of training and learning management? One important thing is to provide a framework for all those YouTube videos and Reddit posts to hang from. If you ever tried to teach yourself Python by reading Stack Overflow posts, you know it can’t be done. Sure, you can hack your way to a solution for a specific problem, but that’s not the same thing as understanding what you’re doing.
In my next installment, I’ll talk more about what that framework looks like, where it came from, and where it’s headed.
Image Source: katemangostar

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