A what now?
Learning at Work Week ([email protected]) 2019 took place from 13th to 17th May (or the 19th if you work weekends!). I volunteered to organise some learning activities here at DPG. This blog is about why we got involved, what we put together and what happened. I’m hoping that this blog with serve to summarise what we did, but not be a ‘book-end’. Instead, I’d like this blog to be a window, a tunnel or some other vessel that will allow the good people at DPG to revisit what we did and move on to a pattern of lifelong learning. Hopefully, this blog will also help the cause of lifelong learning by demonstrating the benefits and ease of taking the opportunity to learn.
To give you a little bit of background: The Campaign for Learning organise events and encourage participation in [email protected], placing themselves as champions of lifelong learning at a national level. Their website details their involvement in other worthwhile initiatives such as developing financial wellbeing and resilience in families, a family literacy programme and debating policy for learning and skills.
“We are likely to be healthier, happier, longer living and wealthier if we are active learners.” (Campaign for Learning, 2019)
Purpose of the week
[email protected] is an annual event intended to: "build learning cultures at work. It aims to put a spotlight on the importance and benefits of continual learning and development." (Campaign for Learning, 2019)
The campaign gives a list of benefits and opportunities reported by organisations and individuals that have taken part previously, such as:
- providing opportunities to discover and recognise internal talent
- greater recognition and valuing of different ways to learn in the workplace
- addressing workplace silos and bridging information gaps
- bringing employees from different parts of the business together to learn from each other
Taking the theme and getting started on Day 1
The Campaign for Learning set the theme for this year’s [email protected] as ‘Shaping the Future’. We were advised by the Campaign for Learning to interpret that title any way that would add value to our workplace. Since an increasing amount of learning is being accessed using technology, we interpreted the theme to take the opportunity to demonstrate how learning can be accessed remotely; irrespective of location. We hosted our learning content on the Articulate Rise platform and harnessed social learning via discussion on Slack (A cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services. If you've never used it, think of it as whatsapp on your PC - but better).
We started our week by looking at why lifelong learning is a good thing, taking in an HBR article on the effects of learning on health, wealth and social life. Click here to read it.
Next, we recognised a key barrier to learning: finding the time. Which lead us to look at an increasingly popular solution: learning in the flow of work.
By now we’ve established the why and when to learn, all we need now is the what.
Shaping the Future was the theme – and one of the biggest influences in the future is technology. The digital revolution is disrupting every industry and area of life. The conclusion drawn upon is that the digital revolution means greater involvement of technology in our work and lives (the extent of which may be outside our control) - and that this is a good thing. We just have to go with it - and that might mean learning a few new things (which is something we can take control of).
From here we can mash together the need to learn about technology with the ease of access to learning that technology affords us. Simple. Job done. Well... job done for day one anyway.
Searching for Learning
Tuesday took an easy approach to learning – to show that learning should be easy. The staff were asked to think about different methods of learning (e.g. conferences and webinars), watch a quick video on the kinds of informal learning to be found in the flow of work, and then look for some of those learning methods in a word search puzzle. Yep, a word search. The plan was to help people remember that list of learning methods, so why not a word search?
We even got ourselves a prize draw with one lucky winner
Making Email easier and Slack slicker
After trying the tips and tricks, colleagues were asked to choose their favourite and share it in a dedicated #learningatworkweek Slack channel.
The idea here was to take two of the learning methods identified on the previous day and try them out; in the flow of work; and then engage in social learning. It worked a treat.
Sharing is caring
On the next day, we expanded on the subject of social learning, looking at asset maps and the idea of the learning being owned by the collective – as opposed to one source, department or person.
Use it or Lose it
On the final day, we looked at the Primary and Recency Effect as well as Hermann Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve. Why? Well, learning something new is only half the battle (Hermann would possibly say it was less than that) – there is only one way to prevent all that effort behind lost as the new capability rapidly gets forgotten. That way is revisiting the learning via reflection, recollection or practice – or whatever works for you. The tip here: if you have an hour to learn, plan to learn for fifty minutes and reflect on what you’ve learned for ten minutes – that reflection time is supremely important. Ebbinghaus wrote about it over 130 years ago and his method made sure we’ve remembered it that long – so it must be true. Thanks, Hermann.
In the end
I really enjoyed working on [email protected] We had a few laughs made good use of what we learned and hopefully further entrenched that idea that every day is a day we can learn.
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