The world is changing more quickly than ever. New concepts and techniques are emerging throughout the different industries and all this has to be learned quickly. However, there is a problem: if we are going through an (r)evolution of concepts in fields like management, marketing, organisational design, business and software development, the same cannot be said of the field of learning. Workers, teams and organisations are still trying to get to grips with new concepts through outdated methods of learning. In many cases, these old methods can help you to memorise theory, but they do not help you to learn how to put that theory into practice in the real world of work. By looking at this new reality, we have to merge learning and performing in order to make it happen continuously. We need new concepts, new habits, and we need to practice new learning tools. This is undoubtedly a revolution, which we call Learning 3.0!
To understand the gist behind Learning 3.0, let’s take a quick look over the existing models of learning.
In the 1.0 model, as a learner you are a knowledge receptor, waiting for an expert/teacher/master or institution to decide on what and how you have to learn. They decide the product and the process of learning that you will be involved in. These are the roots of what we can call prescriptive learning.
If we analyse this model in-depth, we will notice the similarity with a hierarchical structure. Like a pyramidal organisation, this model is based on the separation between the thinkers and the doers. The thinkers are the experts/teachers/masters who are responsible for making the decision of what and how the learners must learn. Notice that in this model, learners are passive receivers of a prescriptive knowledge provided by an expert.
Alexandre Magno, creator of the Learning 3.0 concept and author of the book “How Creative Workers Learn”, pointed out:
“The big criticism of what I call Learning 1.0 is its inefficiency in dealing with the dynamic world we have today. This model was created in a period in which information was more stable and what had to be learned was mostly known and repeatable.”
Because of the lack of this stability, we needed a different approach to learning when we came across complex situations.
The 2.0 model is quite similar to the 1.0 model. Especially in considering the structure to create/transfer knowledge. It is similar because the separation between learners and experts is still the same. However, there is a small difference regarding the behaviour.
Learning 2.0 encourages more dialogue and more interactions between the Learners and the Expert. Even with some elements of collaborative learning, this model is still based on the prescriptive approach. In other words, the decision about what is correct to learn still depends on the Expert.
In a practical view, it is possible to see several examples of this model in practice. For instance, many trainers are looking for activities to engage their students in discussions or some collaborative work. However, despite these significant efforts, the final answer is always provided by the trainer.
Finally, in the 3.0 model the experts no longer define the product of learning. It emerges when faced with new conditions and challenges in the real world. The process of learning is inclusive, promoting discussion with multiple perspectives. It is the foundation of emergent learning. This is where, if you want to learn, you will have to share.
Learning 3.0 is strongly based on emergent learning. According to Marilyn M. Taylor, in the book Emergent Learning for Wisdom:
“Emergent learning means more than acquiring knowledge over a lifetime; it means that we create new knowledge continuously as we encounter new conditions and challenges.”
What exactly is emergent learning? We can find one answer to this question in the paper “Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0”. This paper explains that:
“Learning which arises out of the interaction between a number of people and resources, in which the learners organise and determine both the process and to some extent the learning destinations, both of which are unpredictable.”
In complex systems, the unpredictability of how change affects the system means we will often be surprised by the outcome. No matter how well prescribed or how deeply understood the method is, we will not avoid some unexpected behaviour or undetermined outcome.
We cannot predict the behaviour of a complex system. We need to learn from the interactions and adapt our knowledge according to new emergent pieces of information.
For this reason, Learning 3.0 was created. It can then be a powerful tool to face the complex challenges inside the organisations.
There are different ways to put the Learning 3.0 concept into practice. However, it’s possible to get started by using the Learning Canvas. This canvas is a tool designed to facilitate all conversations during the process of emergent learning. Especially, to help participants to understand the problems and symptoms, to create connections with experiences and ideas, and to foster actionable insights to help people put into practice some experimentation in the real world.
There are three key roles during a Learning Canvas session:
- Facilitator – who helps the group follow the flow of learning, reduces obstacles and fosters collaboration throughout the session.
- Asker – who takes ownership of the problems, presenting them clearly to participants, while seeking ideas for an action plan.
- Sharers – a group of people who contribute their experiences and ideas around the problems presented.
Thus, the Learning Canvas will create a welcome space for everyone to share their stories and ideas. That is the real purpose of Learning 3.0. You can download a PDF file with this canvas here. The aim of this blog is not to teach you how to use the Learning Canvas. However, in the image below you can get a brief summary of its main areas.
In addition, this video shows the Learning Canvas in action during a session of Learning 3.0.
To summarise this blog, I would like to reinforce that Learning 3.0 is a concept that can be applied in different contexts and environments. This concept can be useful for Agile Teams in a variety of ways. As Learning 3.0 fosters collaborative and emergent learning, we can apply Learning 3.0 in situations like a single team retrospective or to help/facilitate some organisational transformation. We can use Learning 3.0 to solve issues like “How to start our Agile journey?”, or “How to address the corporate obstacles to adopting Agile?”, alternatively “How to grow or scale our Agile adoption?”, or even “How to improve our work on the next Sprint?”.
Following the traditional approach to learning, companies could hire experts to provide the ‘right’ answers to each of these questions. However, in complex systems every single element is the cause and the affect at the same time, which makes it difficult to determine what the correct answers are. By applying Learning 3.0, organisations can make every single employee the creator and the receiver of knowledge at the same time.
Based on this challenge, how about you? Are you ready to foster a new environment of learning in your organisation?