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Learnscaping: Getting Things Done in Organizations 






The new factory floor

Industrial age workers used machinery to manufacture objects in factories. Now, knowledge workers

create value, not on the factory floor, but in what I call a learnscape. A learnscape is the platform where

knowledge workers collaborate, solve problems, converse, share ideas, brainstorm, learn, relate to

others, talk, explain, communicate, conceptualize, tell stories, help one another, teach, serve

customers, keep up to date, meet one another, forge partnerships, build communities, and distribute

information. Learnscapes are where and how modern work is performed – including workplace learning.


Learning is the work

Corporate learning used to based on the proposition that knowing how people did things in the past was

adequate preparation for doing well in the present. This worked when there was generally but one way

to do a task, and it remained the same for decades. Today, incessant change is baked into everything.

About all we can say about the future is that it won’t be like the past. The focus of learning must shift

from what used to work to what works now.


The nature of knowledge work

Today, workers apply knowledge to deliver services. You can’t see most of what they’re doing, and their

output is largely intangible. There’s always a better way to do a job; learning stretches minds to cope

with new situations. Successful knowledge workers are rewarded for innovation and ingenuity. These

workers are paid to think. Change is rampant and unpredictable.


Not so long ago, knowledge itself was thought to reside in people’s heads. The new view is that

knowledge is collective intelligence, a shared consensual reality that lives among us rather than inside

us. We aren’t mere consumers of knowledge; we’re contributors as well. Knowledge work is social. More

than just a repository for content, learnscapes are necessarily platforms for sharing, relationshipbuilding,

and making meaning.


The role of the architect

Learnscape architects work with platforms, not programs. This is analogous to platforms and programs

in the software industry. A platform is an operating system for networks; it's a framework. A program is

a structured, rigid element that’s provided on a take-it-or-leave-it basis; it operates atop a particular

platform. The software platform defines an environment that enables programs to connect with one

another and to share services. Take away the platform, and programs have no way to receive input or

print results.


Historically, platforms for learning have been happenstance affairs, a rippled reflection of the

organizaitonal culture. The learnscape architect nudges the platform to help it evolve into an

environment that is coherent, balanced, natural, connected, and interoperable. Learnscape architects

sculpt flexible, loosely-coupled frameworks for learning. They rise above events to manipulate

the connections in processes.


Business outcomes

Business leaders will only support investing in learnscape architecture when they consider its tangible

outcomes, among them:


• building productive two-way relationships with customers

• fostering a culture of continuous improvement

• facilitating teamwork, collaboration, and joint problem-solving

• increasing corporate responsiveness to change

• cutting superfluous email and bureaucratic bloat

• strengthening bonds with all stakeholders

• attracting inquisitive, self-motivated talent

• keeping abreast of new developments in industry and markets

• fostering self-service learning without boundaries

• replacing antiquated control systems with enlightened self-regulation


Learnscape Sandbox


Curriculum-free, interactive, self-service learning is the way of the future, but it’s a future most training departments are not quite ready to adopt.


Most of us agree on where we’re headed: to ecologies where work and learning are one and the same, where people help one another build competency and master new crafts, where members of self-sustaining communities of professionals participate because they take pride in maintaining their standards and doing a great job, and where everyone strives to be all she can be. Open, participative, bottom-up, networked, flexible, responsive: that’s what we’re after.

If only it were that simple. Learning professionals are already over-burdened. Budgets are tight. The economy is a shambles. Management demands cost-effective, rapid-impact solutions. And they want them up and running tomorrow.


Pulling this off requires choosing among a myriad of new technologies, coordinating with IT, cobbling together social networking tools, CYA with legal, monitoring social network performance, and answering demands for new approaches, all the while doing the old job with fewer resources and more demands.


See Plug in learning 2.0 to go






Better, faster, cheaper, safer, and easier to work with

Dawn of the Un-book


Learnscape Architecture (eLearn magazine)


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