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Networked Learning: developing workplace capacity

Harold Jarche reflects on the importance of networks:

…information overload has a direct impact on workplace learning. Workers have access to more information than ever before, but often don’t know if it’s the right information or if it’s current. In the industrial workplace, our training programs could prepare us for years of work, but much of what we learn today will be outdated in months or even weeks.
We need to re-think workplace learning for a networked society.

While some of the language (workscape) doesn’t resonate with me, the concepts that Harold details around information management are important. Learning how to manage information is a key skill. Equally important is recognizing that information can no longer be managed by individuals. Individuals/employees need to rely on social and technological systems and networks for wayfinding and sensemaking. I think Harold needs to consider extending his definition of networked learning. If networked learning is mainly about connecting with others, then we’re regressing to behaviourism. Networked learning has not only an external/social dimension, but also a neurological and conceptual dimensions. What we know is an expression of how we’ve created and connected ideas and concepts. In organizations, this distinction is particularly important. Analyzing social networks will provide an indication of how people are connected and how information flows. Analyzing conceptual development and idea exchange gets to the more complex aspect of determining how ideas develop and influence understanding. As Lazerfeld stated: “who connects to whom, about what, and to what effect”.


  1. Jay Cross wrote:

    George, I don’t get your jibe that “If networked learning is mainly about connecting with others, then we’re regressing to behaviourism.” Aren’t the neurological, conceptual, and emotional dimensions part and parcel of making connections? I don’t read Harold as suggesting networks are mere data dumps.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  2. Networked learning, in my mind, will help us deal with complexity. I recently described how value networks, social knowledge acquisition and emergent practices are also part of this:

    Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink