Corporate Training & e-Learning Blog

Monday

Unlearning?

Industry expert Jay Cross recently listed what he believes today's learning professionals are concerned with. Ready?

Social networking, motivation, re-treading (or cutting), LMS, simulation, gaming, Web 2.0, mobile learning, preferential treatment of high performers, virtual worlds, the Net Generation, information overload, bottom-up knowledge management, rapid e-learning, human emotion, outsourcing, transparency, collaboration, building communities, podcasts, learning 2.0, e-learning 2.0, change management, PLEs (personal learning environments), VLEs (virtual learning environments), blogs, vlogs, wikis, RSS, performance support, and unlearning.

I understand and have written (or will be writing) about most of these items. "Unlearning," however, certainly piqued my interest. So I did some quick research and found an explanation for it on Creating Passionate Users Blog. The first line of the blog page stated, "The future is not in learning..." My first thought was, "Uh oh, my entire 20-year career has focused on corporate training. Now what? Is it time for a career change? Will my new career be in corporate UNtraining??" The second line of the blog page stated, "It's no longer about how quickly you learn; it's how quickly you unlearn." Egads!

This post pointed back to the 1970s as a time for "How well can you learn," the 1990s to early 2000s when the focus was "How fast and how much can you learn," to today (and looking ahead): "How fast can you unlearn." Okay, what's this all really about, anyway?

Sometimes, in order to learn something new, you must first let go of something else that you already know. In addition, the particular knowledge/skills/rules/habits you need to let go of may be something that served you well for a long time, so letting go of it can be very hard indeed. Here are some examples given in that blog of all the things you might have to unlearn in just the course of one year:
  • Unlearn what your target market is (because it just changed).
  • Unlearn the way you advertise and market (because your market just got a lot smarter).
  • Unlearn the way you approach your brand (because your company is re-branding in order to remain competitive in the marketplace).
  • Unlearn the way you teach (because learners need to unlearn and learn simultaneously).
  • Unlearn the way you treat your employees (because before you know it, that "meets expectations" review might come back to haunt you on a blog).
  • Unlearn the technology you use (because it's being replaced with something new tomorrow).
  • Unlearn the methodology you use.
  • Unlearn the designs you use.
  • Unlearn the words you use to describe your business.
  • Unlearn your login password (since the system forces you to change it every 60 days.)
  • Unlearn your cell phone number (you'll want to change your number when you get that new iPhone!!).

And the list could go on. So, in this constantly changing world of ours, we all must learn to unlearn, instead of (or at least in addition to) learning to learn. Ask yourself: "What is not serving me that I need to unlearn...?" There's something to ponder during your commute home today.

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