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Over the last couple of days at the Learning@Work conference in beautiful Sydney (I’m sitting at the Harbour writing this by the way on an absolutely stunning day. A couple of hours to spare for my flight back to Melbourne – wish it was longer right now!), I’ve been thinking more and more about the growth in recognition and use of Pull Learning. From the 70:20:10 model – where particularly the 70% of informal learning comes from pulling the learning when and where we need it through to examples like:

  • Nissan’s at the conference – engagingly presented by Tas Papasimeon outlining how Nissan is using its custom app (really a content management system) to provide their sales force the dynamic and regularly changing product content when and where they need it; pull it in when they need it.
  • There was Helen Blunden’s awesome take on Twitter in support of workplace learning and communities of practice. (How could she be wrong when she clearly demonstrated how Twitter has made even knitting cool.)
  • Cathy Callaghan’s outline of Telstra’s 33,000 ‘opt in’ users of the social comms tool Yammer (think corporate Facebook) which is a powerful comms feed, probably a thermometer of the business’s engagement and corporate knowledge bank (I have direct experience with this same tool and have seen great ROI in its use at Sensis when I was Training Technology Manager there).
  • Or the very forward thinking Kelly Palmer from LinkedIn, presenting on their own customised learning hub (another CMS on top of an LMS – ‘LearnIn’) where the power lies in LinkedIn’s initiative to curate content and context – pull it in where you need it; making it easily found for the right people at the right time.

The Learning Hook’s thinking on this is summed up by our Triple J Learning Solutions – ‘Just in time, Just enough, and Just for me’, Nothing less will do.

So why the shift and larger focus on Pull Learning? I think the main driver is simply this: because we can.

In the past, the ability to ‘pull’ has been isolated to those around us – our immediate work mates. We now have the ‘world of mouth’ (no longer is it just the word of mouth, as what we can leverage and say ourselves has global input and influence).

Pull Learning’s preferable for most of us when compared to the more formal nature of learning through the ‘Push’ of classrooms and learning events as it’s ‘Just in time, Just enough and Just for me’. For example, you lean over to your next door neighbour in the office and ask them for that ingenious shortcut your manager mentioned a while ago, which you never remembered because you didn’t need it until now … you just ‘pulled the learning’ and now have more chance of remembering this skill.

There’s growing recognition and funding for directed and supported informal learning design i.e. Learning and Development professionals have the impetus to find ways to implement more options for learners to pull their learning when they need it – shared knowledge banks (often content management systems which better yet have capacity to hold user generated content too) or mechanisms to ‘pull’ it up; at its simplest form: ‘Google it’.

Think Google – think the Internet, which has created the ‘world of mouth’. The following personal example I think sums up why we’re now seeing these great gains from successful Pull Learning.


The ‘Pull Example’

These days when I take on new projects at home – things I haven’t done before – I quite confidently leave my research for the job until the last minute. I literally wake up the morning of the job and know I have everything I need to learn the job and get it done (caveat: for things that I can gauge I have the aptitude for). Let’s look at a sliding door I put on recently. I woke up and pulled out the iPad. I googled for tutorials. I skimmed and found one that looked good and made sense to me. I then went to our local mega hardware store and bought all I needed. I then completed the work, stopping and starting the tutorial as I went. This has made a massive impact on my capability, confidence and satisfaction – all through Pull Learning (while my wife was very impressed and happy that I finally fixed the door!).

Once upon a time in a remarkably not too distant past, I probably would have called my Dad (still Pull Learning of course). If he knew how to do it, I’d only really get his advice on it i.e. I couldn’t shop around. I might take some notes while he explained how to do it (I couldn’t really pause or replay, and definitely avoided silly questions). I’d then get on with the job of course, but with much, much less confidence in terms of my own execution of the task and I think a poorer result – let’s call it a hatchet job.

But… none of this suggests that ‘Push Learning’ is dead. The formal 10% of learning that we orchestrate and design for the classroom or the half hour eLearning course is critical. Along with being able to intensely and expertly impart important content, it’s often this actual Push Learning experience that is the catalyst for the Pull Learning to come i.e. the on-the-job learning.

Both Push and Pull Learning form the Learning Campaign and both need to be catered for. Without the ‘push’ (and it’s critical it’s an appreciated and engaging ‘push’!), learners may not know they can pull.

In summary, ‘it’s better to give than take – but it’s also better to pull than push – oh, the irony.’

I hope you enjoyed this read and for more thinking on this particular topic, check out this earlier blog, or more on the Triple J Learning, or better yet, contact us at The Learning Hook.

For more eLearning, visit www.learninghook.com.au

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