As the reading begins, I am introduced to an observation that learners will use tools differently and that the outcomes will be unique. Individual learning and different outcomes, leads to a greater collaborative learning experience even when using the same tools. I often see this in the manufacturing environment that I am embedded with. There are two distinct regional locations. These two locations are Spartanburg, SC and El Paso, TX, both of which have the same tools. These two locations spent many years operating independently of one another and results in production were very different. Each location would perform better in certain areas than the other. We are now creating teams comprising of employees from each location. The purpose of this is to share successes and failures as we move to improve process and quality. We are building a more collaborative environment to help improve how employees learn. I have recognized the power of individuals using tools and defining a unique outcome. What is even more important is that we are sharing the results and improving as one business unit based on these individual or regional outcomes.
The reading challenges the typical belief that meaningful learning takes place at, what is commonly referred to as, “brick and mortar” institutions. While I agree that these institutions are valuable, the social learning outside theses confines is just as important. This is being influenced by the accelerated rate of communication. Individuals are engaged in the process of sharing never seen before. This allows failure to occur at a faster pace that translates into finding success, or a path forward more quickly.
“Today’s internet makes it increasingly easy ‘for people with common interests to meet, share ideas and collaborate in innovative ways’ (ibid.: 18).”
This is an observation that I make on a regular basis within my business unit. Regional, economic, and cultural differences that are now shared, and the realization that different individual perspectives are important, leads to a learning environment that supports meaningful feedback and collaboration. This environment now leads to a “Pull” rather than a “Push” learning environment.
During the initial stages of bringing these two locations together, the way forward was a more of a “Push.”. The team I work with would supply the learning content in an attempt to move manufacturing forward. During the establishment of working teams we learned to trust these teams to communicate and implement learning opportunities.
“[Pull models] help people to come together and innovate in response to unanticipated events, drawing upon a growing array of highly specialized and distributed resources.”
There is no arguing the fact that there has been a solid framework set up to support employees. The shift is still in progress, but employees are beginning to identify learning opportunities and mobilizing their own resources in this collaborative environment.
In conclusion, the team that I work with has created a platform for learning. Supporting employees and implementing the practice of open communication through project teams has led to a powerful learning environment. There are still challenges, but the power of social learning is apparent and undeniable.