Fantastic post over at gsiemens’ Connectivism Blog. Very timely for me as I’ve just been asked to set up a series of workshops for one of our heavy hitting clients. Mission: help their higher-ups with a few areas of opportunity in English.
Our client works deeply with tax law and international tax treaties. They want help with developing their e-mail and contract writing skills, as well as support in dealing with English conference calls.
The more I delve into the prep phase of these workshops, the more I realize that gsiemens is right about all this: If you want to be an up-to-date worker, the content is not nearly as important as the connections you have to relevant information sources.
“Employees can’t stay current by taking a course periodically. Content distribution models (books and courses) can’t keep pace with information and knowledge growth. Problems are becoming so complex that they cannot be contained in the mind of one individual - problems are held in a distributed manner across networks, with each node holding a part of the entire puzzle.
How do we separate the learner from the knowledge? By focusing not on the content they need to know (content changes constantly and requires continual updating), but on the connections to nodes which continually filter and update content. Instead of buying a book on elearning, subscribe to Stephen’s site, Maish’s or Jay’s blog (or elearnspace ). Read a few wikipedia articles (and contribute), join discussion forums, a list serv, follow tags on technorati or del.icio.us, attend a virtual conference, take a few workshops…you get the idea. When we stop seeing knowledge as an entity that is possessed within a person and start to cast it as a function of elements distributed across a system, we notice a dramatic impact on the education process: the educator becomes a supporter (not the center), the content is not as critical as the connections, learners find value in their aggregated perspectives, learners become content creators, and learning is continuous, exploratory and sustained (not controlled or filtered by only one agent).” (gsiemens, 2006
To me, as I prep for these workshops, I see my role not as the knowledge source or gateway - cus I really know squat about tax law, but I do know about making connections.
My job will not be to create a “come to me” type workshop model, but a “graze here, here, and here” type model. “You have trouble with this? Check this site out…” “You have trouble writing an English e-mail…why not check this list serv out and contribute…”
The focus shouldn’t be on how much content, but how many meaningful connections can be made.