It is no longer enough to have a degree and a host of master’s degrees and courses on our curriculum; knowledge is nothing more than a starting point of our professional career. We are facing a paradigm shift in training: just like when we ride a bicycle, if we stop pedalling, we fall.
Whether or not to maintain status and work today depends on our ability to continuously train. It is we, the professionals, who are responsible for worrying (and taking care of) what we have to learn, not the company that hires us or the state.
In return, we can choose our particular path flexibly throughout life. But with the number of courses and other resources available on the internet, what criteria do we have to follow in order to select the best ones?
Expand strengths, do not cover gaps
This paradigm shift means throwing some premises to the ground. The first, that training should be aimed at covering our deficiencies. I believe, on the contrary, that the design of a personalized plan should be anchored in the search and development of our natural strengths.
Too many companies hire based on acquired knowledge to try to turn their employees into something they are not. Today we have the opportunity to define who we are and what we choose to contribute. We cannot waste it.
Of course we will have to try to cover our shortcomings, but understanding that the strength to learn is only found in the deep motivations of each one, which are what differentiate us and make us unique. And that the difference between an acceptable worker and a really good one is in their ability to train (or not) by delving into their skills and preferences.
Not only the best courses
Another preconception is that which equates training with taking courses. In the internet era, training opportunities are almost endless, with a dynamic and accessible offer. So much so that restricting yourself to the usual options seems like a limitation. There are many other ways to train ourselves on the internet .
I also propose that professionals design their own training path, balancing traditional learning with informal and collaborative learning (or peer-to-peer learning ).
Because, as Charles Jennings analyzes in his book 70:20:10 Towards 100% performance , only 30% of the useful knowledge that a professional possesses comes from “formal education.” The remaining 70% comes from attending talks, working together with specialists in other subjects and reading books and articles.
But, above all, because in a context of collaborative economy there are more and more reputable professionals who generously share their research and experiences. It would be a shame to waste so much gold.
It’s not just about acquiring knowledge
Training should be aimed at acquiring knowledge. Yes, but not only. In order to pull the bandwagon of a continuous learning process, without guidelines and without a regulated program, attitude is key.
What we know how to do is as important as the will to learn it. And that will requires motivation but also other types of skills such as the ability to share and collaborate online by working out loud.
Digitization implies new methodologies and tools, but above all a personal development towards new values and attitudes. Among them is the awakening of that “curious appetite” for learning from everything and everyone that they call “ learnability ” in English, and which should not be confused with the simple ability to receive a lesson. Because it is not just about being able to learn, but about doing it actively and proactively.
Since our learnability is extensible, confidence in our intellectual capacity to face this change is essential. To leverage it, when designing our roadmap towards effective learning we should not forget elements such as:
- Critical thinking, incorporating together with knowledge itself the ability to ask questions that help us to fully understand it.
- Communication and dissemination, forcing us to develop skills that allow us to share the knowledge acquired, because you learn a lot by teaching others.
- Collaboration and co-creation, both knowledge multiplier mechanisms, with the development of knowledge networks as a key catalyst.
- The search for applicability but also for transversality, in order to expand our opportunities to open ourselves to the lateral thinking that creativity requires.
You learn better in company
Another of the premises that we must banish is that self-taught learning is individual and solitary. Nothing is further from reality. In learning issues, there are contexts that facilitate and stimulate, while others hinder and dissuade. It is important to place ourselves in positions that allow us to develop flexibility, mental agility and the ability to extrapolate knowledge from one situation to another.
We have to be willing to break our prejudices and “unlearn” when appropriate. We can grow from nonconformity and embrace new learning methodologies, more frequently conjugating verbs such as demonstrate, practice, organize, participate, ask, relate, explain, summarize, structure, illustrate…
The usefulness of “pills”
It is not true that you do not learn anything in a one-minute video. Although perhaps you would never choose to study like this yourself, you have to test what works for others. It is time to open up to replacing extensive courses with training pills, with modular structures that one selects as needed, with social learning and also with some fun.
I recommend a varied learning scheme, trying to combine “the usual” with micro-training, training applications, collaborative challenges and games, making mobile phones and social networks our allies.
Memorization and the internet
It is a trap to think that memory is already something secondary, because everything is on the internet. Attention and memory continue to be essential elements , because we reason with the data and tools that are “loaded” into memory.
Since our brain needs to search long-term memory files for experiences and patterns to facilitate understanding and problem solving, it is important to integrate the contents therein with multiple retrieval cues. In addition, only by memorizing we release energy in executive functions, which increases our capacity for creativity and ingenuity.
We must learn to learn
Once we have assumed that we all need to be constantly updated, not only because what we know today will not serve us tomorrow, but because our learning capacity is the true strategic accelerator for our companies, the questions we ask ourselves are: how do we know what I have to learn? How to identify references? How to guarantee that what I choose will have an impact on my professional development and my contribution to the business?
Our schedules are full and it is difficult to find time to train ; The other important issue is learning to choose which training activity we are going to dedicate our attention to.
In this sense, I always recommend checking:
- That the topic is aligned with our roadmap. If we do not yet have it, then the selection should be aimed at understanding how to design it.
- That the methodology fits us, that you can take it without neglecting your usual schedule.
- That teachers are leading professionals in the subject they teach and professionals in tune with the digital revolution.
- That their colleagues be stimulating so that the sessions are participatory, taking full advantage of collective intelligence.
They say that the facade of the Academy founded by Plato adorned a motto that was quite a declaration of intent: “No one enters here who does not know geometry.” Today, however, on the home page of Khan Academy , a free online learning website, the motto is: “You just have to know that you can learn anything.”
It is about developing appetite, controlling emotions, focusing attention, maintaining effort and exercising memory. To assume learning and unlearning as a part of our daily activity, internalizing these processes as we have done with, for example, the daily task of reading our email.
This is the philosophy of the learning society.
Author Bio: Virginia Cabrera Nocito is Professor of Digital Mentality and Training at Nebrija University