June 8, 2007

Corporations aren't Allowed to be Personal

An interesting discussion just got more interesting. Tony Karrer was discussing some models of how personal learning environments (PLE) could be used to improve learning in the work environment, in response in blogoshpere fashion, Stephen Downes expresses his opinion ...
What is it about people in corporate learning that they feel the need to perpetuate the attitude of servitude it seems all learners must adopt. We don't exist to work for a corporation; our learning, our minds, our most valuable asset of all, ought to serve our own purposes first and foremost. But I guess it's employers, not employees, paying the bills for corporate e-learning consultants, and thy wanna hear what they wanna hear. Meanwhile - for the rest of us - the reason we call them personal learning environments is that they are indended to serve our needs, not someone else's.
An interesting view, I'm pretty sure that Stephen isn't implying that if you work for a company (as opposed to a government or school) that you can't engage in personal learning. It is kind of hard to understand exactly what he means? Is having a common goal or working as a team to achieve objectives "perpetuating the attitude of servitude?" But I wasn't the only one who thought this comment was not off the mark. Check out Jay Cross' comments.

This is utter hogwash, and Stephen knows it. As one of a dozen or so edu-bloggers searching for the appropriate metaphor for PLE, I’ve talked with Stephen and others. He knows full well that the reason I question “Personal” is that I don’t want us to forget that learning is co-creation, not solo. It has nothing to do with outsiders trying to take control.

He continues...

Many school professionals cling to the fiction that there need be two separate realities: school and the real world. Why? Don’t we want to use the same knowledge-building tools and portfolio we spend sixteen or more years building in school when we “graduate” into knowledge work? It’s a replay of the old joke that “I wouldn’t have majored in philosophy if I’d known that none of the big philosophy companies would be hiring when I got out of school.”

As our world gets deeper and deeper into an information age where rapid change necessitates continuous learning, work and learning inevitably become one and the same. The learning environment is the working environment with training wheels and a life line. You don’t throw away your “PLE” when you graduate. Do you have to rename it?

Great stuff. I'm really not the guy to add too much additional information into the conversation, but it doesn't appear to me that there is much to be gained from such an anti-business stance. In my case working for small business, a transition I made from Higher Education, has allowed me to become a lifelong learner.

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