Learning is learning. At its core, learning is about identifying a gap in knowledge, skills or abilities and devising a plan to fill that gap. This usually involves a combination of reading, writing, listening, and practical application. Learning something new at age five is similar to learning something new at age fifty-five. The context may be vastly different, but the process of acquiring new skills, knowledge, and abilities is the same.
So why do learning opportunities for adult professionals appear truncated and contrived? Why does learning within corporations and organizations look so different than learning within post-secondary institutions?
Most professions define a set of standards for new entrants and work closely with post-secondary institutions to ensure graduates meet these standards. Learning outcomes within courses are aligned with professional standards and post-secondary institutions are accredited in order to deliver training. But, once a graduate enters a profession, learning appears to become an afterthought.
In the workforce learning is highly valued but poorly maintained. Many professionals have a “continuing education requirement” for licence. They have to attend x-number of seminars each year or a number of carefully crafted pro-d retreats. The trouble is: these professionals are never asked to defend their learning or demonstrate how they are integrating their learning into everyday practice. The demonstration of learning that was once required in post-secondary is no longer required in profession. Millions of dollars are invested every year and people are rarely asked to demonstrate how they are using the outcomes of their courses to advance the organization.
Employees on an obligatory learning journey end up going through the motions. They register in courses, submit receipts, put on a nametag and call it done. Professional learning becomes a box to check or an annoying requirement to complete. There is no link between corporate goals, the learning activity, and how the employee is being measured. In education, we call this misalignment.
Corporations and organizations who approach learning in this way will quickly become obsolete. The nature of work and the knowledge economy requires continuous learning in order to stay competitive. Luckily there is an inexpensive, scalable way to align learning and engage the most valuable asset of an organization. The solution is portfolio driven professional development using http://competency.io/