Skills for learning professionals

In a Learning 2.0 world, where learning and performance solutions take on a wider variety of forms and where churn happens at a much more rapid pace, what new skills and knowledge are required for learning professionals?

That’s the LCB big question, and my article on Skills 2.0, written one year ago, addressed this very question. So when this question was posed I had to make sure that I hadn’t changed my perspective in the interim. My basic premise was that working and learning in networks is an important aspect of professionalism:

Today, active involvement in informal learning, particularly through web-based communities, is key to remaining professional and creative in a field. Being a learning professional in a Web 2.0 world is becoming more about your network than your current knowledge.

I said that the main skill needed by learning professionals is attitude, especially being open to continuous learning and opening up your learning to public view in order to collaborate with other professionals. I’ve called this life in Beta.

In the past year, I’ve found that an open attitude is becoming more important. The people who blog or connect on Twitter can get things done quicker, find answers, get advice and can be more effective for their organizations. While working for a client this past week I used my online networks to quickly get advice that was important for the project. But you can’t do this without a network and it takes time to build trust. People usually have to know something about you before they help you out. Without some persistent point of presence (blog, Twitter, podcast), you’re invisible online unless you’re already famous.

Putting yourself out there as a learner first means that you may need to check your attitude before going online. People who pontificate or don’t help others may not be able to build a trusted network. This is even more evident on Twitter with its asymmetry, where people you follow don’t have to follow you back. Having no followers may be a sign that you don’t have much to give back to your network. That could make it more difficult to get information and advice when you need it. Twitter has amplified many aspects of blogging. You can follow more people, send out more (short) messages and get really quick feedback. This amplification will likely continue with future social networking technologies.

Last year, I concluded:

If we limit our conversations to only those in the same office, we’re missing out. People with larger and more diverse networks have an advantage as learning professionals and in dealing with change. This constant flow of sense-making through conversations in our workplace networks makes the idea of learning as a fixed event in a specific place look obsolete.

This year, I would add that it’s not just an advantage to belong to diverse professional networks but that the situation has tipped so that it is now a significant disadvantage to not actively participate in social learning networks.

6 Responses to “Skills for learning professionals”

  1. Milan Davidovic

    The phrase “learning professionals” got me thinking in two directions at once:
    – professionals in the field of learning
    – professionals who learn

  2. Kaylene McvCormick

    I appreciate your point of view about attitude for learning professionals.

    I have the willingness to learn and contribute to blogs, tweets etc but dont know how to get started and feel a little inadequate with my lack of knowledge of such forums.

    Do you have any hints on how to get started.


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