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Learning via Informal Networks

December 16th, 2003 · No Comments

[via Smart Mobs] Jay Cross writes:

Everything is connected. Each of us is enmeshed in innumerable networks. Youre linked to telephone networks, satellite networks, cable feeds, power grids, ATM networks, the banking system, the Web, intranets, extranets and networks that are local, wide, wireless, secure, virtual and peer-to-peer.

Social networks interconnect us in families, circles of friends, neighborhood groups, professional associations, task teams, business webs, value nets, user groups, flash mobs, gangs, political groups, scout troops, bridge clubs, 12-step groups and alumni associations.

Human beings are networks. Scientists are still conceptualizing the human protocol stack, but they affirm that our personal neural intranets share a common topology with those of chimps and other animals. Once again, everythings connected. Learning is a whole-body experience.

Learning is that which enables you to participate successfully in life, at work and in the groups that matter to you. Learners go with the flow. Taking advantage of the double meaning of network, to learn is to optimize ones networks.

The concept that learning is making good connections frees us to think about learning without the chimera of boring classrooms, irrelevant content and ineffective schooling. Instead, the network model lets us take a dispassionate look at our systems while examining nodes and connections, seeking interoperability, boosting the signal-to-noise ratio, building robust topologies, balancing the load and focusing on process improvement.

Does looking at learning as networking take humans out of the picture? Quite the opposite.

Most learning is informal; a network approach makes it easier, more productive and more memorable to meet, share and collaborate. Emotional intelligence promotes interoperability with others. Expert locators connect you to the person with the right answer. Imagine focusing the hive mind that emerges in massive multiplayer games on business. Smart systems will prescribe the apt way to demonstrate a procedure, help make a decision or provide a service, or transform an individuals self-image. Networks will serve us instead of the other way around.

Tags: General

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