Learning = Experience-Performance-Reflection

The above diagram, by Nick Milton, shows some important aspects of what influences performance [hint: blue]. First, knowledge is the result of information (e.g. learning content) AND experience. Knowledge is directly influenced by one’s own experience. Therefore there is no such thing as “knowledge transfer“. Second, performance is taking action on knowledge. This is what is evident to others in the workplace. They observe what we do. It’s not what we know that is important to others, but what we do with it. In the workplace, what we do with knowledge is usually in a social context. This influences the third key point, that reflection of one’s performance is an important part of the learning process and this is often in a social context as well. Learning from what others do is the foundation of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory:

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

Nick Milton’s diagram shows the inherent weakness of the pervasive workplace technology called learning management systems. LMS are disconnected from 1) Experience, 2) Performance & 3) Reflection. Their focus is on formal learning (a mere 10% of workplace learning) usually in the form of information transmission. As Jane Hart explains, the LMS is not part of the experience-performance-reflection workflow:

Although the LMS has in recent years become the de facto place to store learning content in the form of courses, it is not the first port of call for a worker when they need to solve a problem – since an LMS is generally a separate, password-protected system, which is not easily searchable and the content within in it is not available in a usable format.

Smart Work starts with an understanding of what is important for the 21st century workplace. It’s not content delivery. We are awash in content. Smart workers need ways to enhance their experience-performance-reflection processes, not have more information dumped into the pipeline.


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