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I have learned a considerable amount about workplace learning during the duration of this course, and I would like to present what I have learned and what I am still working toward understanding. Four parts are involved: Learning from the Course, Problems and Issues, Suggestions, and Conclusion. The first part, Learning from the Course, contains four aspects: learning organization, system thinking, roles of learners and organizational leaders, and Roby Kidd's Ten Commandments for Educators.
Learning from the Course
There are three popular definitions of learning organizations, from each of Senge, Pedler, and Watkins and Marsick. The one I prefer is the definition given by Senge: Learning organizations [are] organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. (Senge, 1990, 3) (http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-organization.htm)
This definition shows what the main features are that a learning organization should have. First, a learning organization should provide continuous learning opportunities so that people can expand their talent to achieve the goal they set. Secondly, a learning organization should help its staff think from the whole group perspective. This aspect can be also called system thinking, which I will talk about in the next section. Thirdly, a learning organization should motivate people to work together. From Senge's idea, we can find that the learning organization is the one we expected. However, whether it can be put into practice is a good question.
I definitely think that system thinking is the most important value in workplace learning. Senge also agreed that system thinking is the conceptual cornerstone of this theory. ('The Fifth Discipline') http://www.infed.org/thinkers/senge.htm
System thinking helps learners think of an issue from the perspective of the whole organization. It makes the learners put the individual's profit and team's profit together. This kind of thinking style leads the company's leaders to invest considerable money in training staff, because staff is treated as a valued intellectual resource. Therefore, system thinking will keep the company and the individuals working together in long-term development.
Roles of learners and the roles of organizational leaders
Workplace learning is a kind of learner-centred learning. In this course, the roles of learners and the roles of organizational leaders in learner-centred learning are declared clearly.
In learner-centred education, course participants are responsible for
1. Diagnosing their own learning needs;
2. Formulating learning goals and objectives;
3. Identifying resources and strategies for learning;
4. Implementing learning activities;
5. Evaluating learning outcomes.
The course leader
1. Provides overall leadership and coordination of course activities;
2. Fosters a climate of warmth, respect, responsibility, relationship, inquiry, mutuality;
3. Gives assistance in designing learning programs;
4. Provides ongoing support, both inside and outside the classroom, to individuals and to groups of learners, in identifying learning goals and resources, solving learning problems, and presenting evidence of learning in an academically sound manner;
5. Assists in evaluating the learning experience;
6. Promotes networking within the classroom and within the field. (https://online.ufv.ca/webct/urw/lc2044122001.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct)
In learner-centred learning, learners and leaders are both participating in the learning activity actively. If learners and leaders can discharge their responsibility completely, workplace learning can maximize its effectiveness.
Roby Kidd's Ten Commandments for Educators
Roby Kidd's Ten Commandments for Educators states requirements for teachers. I agree with them. Successful training asks for a lot from the teacher. If the instructor can obey Roby Kidd's Ten Commandments for Educators , a learning organization can be created.
Problems and Issues
In this course, I find there is little information about staff's psychological education. Most of the information is concentrated on practical skills and company's eidos. However, today's office workers are under a lot of pressure, so it is necessary to help them deal with their psychological problems.
Besides, the idea of a learning organization and roles of learners and leaders seems like too ideal. In fact, some companies may not invest so much time and money in training. In addition, some leaders are not wise enough to send their staff to get training for a long-term goal.
I suggest that more classes dealing with psychology should be taken in the course of workplace learning. Learners have to learn how deal with the high pressure.
Moreover, the government should lend a hand to workplace learning. It will help these companies that do not have enough money to train their workers.
Besides, leaders should also take some lessons that can help managers become more open-minded and far-sighted.
In conclusion, in this course, I get some ideas about organizational learning. Such kinds of learning are useful for both individuals and the team. Therefore, this idea needs to be spread.
After completing the course on "working-place learning," I wondered whether the organizational learning which is called "learner-centred learning" is really learner-centred or not. I looked for the answer through my own organizational learning experience and my cousin's organizational learning experience.
The theoretical research
Before I present my own research, I would like to introduce what learner-centred learning means exactly. Learner-centred learning can also be called self-directed learning. This learning style puts learners' needs and development as the first priority. In addition, it is designed to carry out training or classes based on learners' personalities. In this type of learning, the teacher is not an authority but an adviser. According to the following material, we may have some ideas of the roles that learners and teachers play in the activities of leaner-centred learning.
I work as an intern in the Foreign Trade of a company (let's call it company A for convenience) in Guangzhou. Company A cooperates with Company B, which is a famous online trading service provider. When I was accepted into this position, I got training from my workmates (let's call them C and D). I was confused about why company A did not have formal training for newcomers, when C and D told me secretly that this company did not have such a traditional course and newcomers were always guided by the experienced employees. After I got a bit more familiar with my instructors, I asked them their experience with training. They told me that their instructor was very busy and bad-tempered, so that they could not learn a lot from the training. In order to meet their working needs, they had to learn from their colleagues and friends and they supported each other. After a manager from company B gave us some guidance on the online trading, my instructors said that the manager would come to our company at a certain time. He taught us the updated methods of using the network trading platform. Sometimes we would also go to company B to receive training. Additionally, we had to pay about one hundred thousand yuan each year for B's service.
One day, I came across an opportunity to get training from company B. I did not find that training to be very successful. First, there were so many advertisements of B. It seemed like that B got us here to witness their products. Secondly, the room was so large that it was impossible for all of the learners to be involved with the class. Some of them could not even see the PPT clearly. Thirdly, the content of the class was talking about company B's glorious achievements last year! The teacher talked very little about how to make deals successfully on-line.
My evaluation on my experience
Through my experience, I think that workplace learning has a long way to go to achieve the goal of learner-centred learning in my company, A.
To begin with, as a learner, I, as well as my instructors, did not have the chance to get normal training in our company. As a newcomer, I could not figure out my learning needs, learning goals and objectives, and I could not identify my learning strategies. Consequently, I had no idea how to get the outcomes I wanted and value them. Though I may have contributed to my own failure in this situation, I also realize that I didn't have a stable knowledge foundation to begin with.
Then when talking about the instructors, I would to divide them into two groups: my workmates and the company B instructor. To my observation, I have to say that the reason why I did not learn a lot from my company's training is not my instructors refusing to teach but their lack of the ability to teach me more. My company should employ more experienced teachers to give us training courses. However, it is also not wise to pay so much money to hire company B to give training. Here, B is not a teacher but a profit-oriented company. Company A should make sure of what kind of training its staff needs, and make a perfect plan. In addition, such training should be continuous.
In conclusion, according to my experience, workplace training cannot always be called learner-centred learning and it should be improved.
Before I took this course, what I knew about workplace learning was having some ordinary official meetings, which were made for staff to learn the company's new systems, such as the system of inspection, production system, or something like that. After I have completed this course, I find that workplace learning contains much richer content.
I used to think that workplace learning has just become popular in the last few years, and it was at a low level. However, According to Organizational Learning Milestones (http://www.solonline.org/organizational_overview/milestones/), the history of organizational learning can be traced back to the year 1938, and it has continued to develop since then. This new finding motivates me to continue learning. In the article "A View of Organizational Learning ", it says that organizational learning has five disciplines: "personal mastery," "mental models," "shared vision," "team learning," and "system thinking." (http://www.solonline.org/organizational_overview/#interview)
These five simple phrases give me a directed and deep impression on workplace learning. Among these five disciplines, I have never come across "system thinking" before, which I think is the most important aspect in organizational learning. I also learned that the critical features of adult education include disconfirmation, disorientation, exploration, reorientation, sharing the discovery, reflection, and equilibrium, according to Carton.
After completing this course on line, I have a general idea about workplace learning. Even though adult education has developed quickly, I have to say that it still has room to improve. For example, organizational learning is mainly about practical skills and company eidos. Few of workplace learning practices pay attention to their staffpeoples' psychological status. Current office workers are usually under high pressure, so it is necessary to help them deal with their psychological problems.