Friday, December 16, 2005

Now Available: My Continuous Partial Attention

I for one am regularly overwhelmed and often wander dazed and confused through a myriad of files and repositories and feeds looking for something I once knew or something I should know… and as I multitask and live life I note that evrything is receieiving some of my attention, yet nothing is receiving all of my attention. is this condition unique to our time? Ben Watson ponders about our information overload and leads us to a relevant quote -

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." (Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, pages 40-41, Martin Greenberger, ed., The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.)

Ben suggests that “maybe the first course every person should take should be on effective online search techniques and how to assemble knowledge from multiple sources of varying quality.”

In response David Grebow asked aseries of questions that we in training and learning design should be thinking about and providing solutions for -
  1. How can formal learning lay a foundation that will support the informal learning process?
  2. Recent IDC research found that we spend upto 25% of EVERY workwork searching for information. What tools and systems can we implement today to increase the effectiveness of this search?
  3. How can we provide tools and systems (e.g. Subject Matter Expert Location Programs, more focused Knowledge Repositories, Workflow Systems,embedded learning,etc. ) that enable the informal processes to be more effective. If is is truly 80% of the learning equation then people who own the P&L need to learn not to spend all their money in that little basket.
  4. What can we learn from the informal process that may - or may not - inform a somewhat more formal approach? Why does it work so well? Why do people in the workplace like it so much more than 'taking a course' or 'going to class'? Is it a cultural bias that formal learning ends at some point? That the workplace is NOT the schoolplace? That performance (being able to do) is better than knowledge (being able to know)?
  5. And perhaps most important, how can we figure out when any learning - formal or informal - is not even needed? When does 'just doing it' and moving on or as you said 'find and discard', without ever learning a thing, become acceptable?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, as we become more adept at multitasking are we expanding our locus of attention or arew we just paying less attention to everything? The more tasks we take on, the more "things" we need to pay attentio to, it's like we're always scanning, waiting for something to "grab" our attention. hey, that's how I watch television and lsiten to radio now!