Measuring change: marking progress in learning

As this year draws to an end, i’ve been reflecting on what i’ve learnt, on the ways that i’ve changed. To learn is to change and it’s important to take time out to reflect on what we’ve learnt and how we’ve changed, to understand how we can mark our progress.

Within formal learning environments we tend to measure learning with exams, through reviews, by gauging our performance against benchmarks, but in the informal social learning space this measurement is much harder. I’ve written 132,345 words on the blog this year, but none of it has been marked. Or, rather, none of it has been formally marked. Much of it has been peer reviewed. This has benefits, but also risks: the very informality of the learning i do in this social space means that i’m free to play, to try out new ideas and to see what feels ‘right’. I cannot ‘fail’ in the conventional sense, although i can alienate or discourage people from joining in.

The very lack of formal assessment within this space encourages innovation and creative thinking, but the lack of structure makes me more likely to drift off, to chase dead ends, to pursue weaker ideas. So it’s not a hundred and thirty thousand exemplary words, but rather a hundred and thirty thousand words of reflection, within which i have learnt a lot.

The differences in how we measure performance, how we measure learning, within formal learning spaces and informal or social ones is a significant challenge for businesses today. As we adopt progressively more social learning layers, relying on these spaces to enhance and improve the overall learning journey, we need to think about how engagement can be measured, moderated and rewarded.

But we also want to do this without creating parameters that stifle the very freedom and creativity that make these spaces work in the first place. I only play with ideas because i understand that it’s a risk free space: if it becomes too formal, i am less likely to play and more likely to broadcast what i feel is ‘appropriate’, what will score highly.

So we should take time to reflect on what we’ve learnt in this year, on how we’ve changed: are you doing things differently today to how you were doing them last December? Are you playing with new ideas or have to claimed new formal qualifications? What roles have we taken within social learning communities? Where have you turned for support and where have to collaborated to learn? Have you made progress?

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Achievement, Blog, Blogging, Broadcast, Change, Collaboration, Community, Connections, Formal Spaces, Informal Spaces, Learning, Performance, Reflection, Social Learning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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