In the 2020s, and as never before, our willingness to learn and to absorb new conditions and experiences determine our quality of life in the ‘here and now’. This is much more than taking life’s chances and making appropriate choices as we become global citizens of a world in which there are no frontiers as technology, diminishing natural resources and humanitarian and environmental disaster dictate the immediacy and challenge of change.
The socio-economic conditioning of citizens of every age, colour and creed is not only dictated by the performance of national government but by individual responsiveness to a plethora of invasive influences, among them …
PURPOSE: to create Lifelong Learners that are
LEARNING POWER is found to have 7 basic dimensions or building blocks and is measured and tracked by on-line completion of the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI). ELLI is sensitive to change, doesn’t ‘trait-cast’ and is responsive to both the ‘learning’ environment and personal circumstance. It has been research-validated, both academically and operationally, over 20 years of rigorous testing among more than 100,000 people globally drawn from all walks of life and across households, educational institutions, workplaces, indigenous and displaced communities.
Every organization, whatever its purpose, is unique! Its DNA is created by its people, who in combination, cannot be replicated by another. They are its fabric. They may aspire to be as another but the actions of their stakeholder complement, their decision-making and the history and geography of their communities combine to provide a unique footprint.
Similarly, no methodology can have universal traction and provide the same results wherever it is adopted. It will merely provide direction and a starting point. Nonetheless, ELLI’s ability to assess Learning Power and to track change means that learning is quantifiable and that interventions can be prescribed to meet an organization’s aims and objectives. In addition, ELLI is sensitive both to the quality of the learning environment and to individual circumstance.
This methodology provides a well-trodden pathway but its outcomes reliant on the spirit and purpose, engagement and enterprise, commitment and culture of the organization within which it sits.
SMT introduction to ELLI
The challenge facing the Senior Management Team (SMT) is to determine what ‘learning’ means for their organization, its purpose, its identifiable and visible features:
how will the organization’s learning journey be managed and by whom?
Finding the starting point among leaders, managers, and staff. How do they learn? What is the organization’s present learning culture? To what extent does SMT preference match the reality on the ground?
The audit will bring with it a confidence that its messaging will not fall on deaf ears. It will be incumbent on the SMT to ensure that this confidence is not misplaced and to capture the traction it has created to bring about change.
Planning that is truly strategic is rare in many commercial organizations as the majority become pre-occupied with the immediacy of the urgent that results in a tactical and short-term plan. However, as business has necessarily had to become more fleet of foot, learning as a ‘skill for life’has taken center stage, strategic and longer-term planning become an imperative.
The strategic plan will provide:
It will address in no more than 15-20 A4 pages:
One of the most efficient learning methods is the open exchange of knowledge and experience between colleagues. Managers and employees. Nonetheless, whilst junior staff are usually uninhibited and a balance has to be drawn between dependence and independence, this is not so among their elders. It often takes time to overcome ‘ego’ and a desire to keep learning discoveries to one’s self.
Sharing and knowledge exchange can, however, be facilitated by:
ELLI is an invaluable tool in the effective management of transitioning at the 4 pivotal points in a student’s educational journey.
As every teacher and parent knows, the move from one school’s learning environment to another, challenges a student’s ability to absorb change. Secondary schools are increasingly asking their feeder schools to profile the Learning Power of Year 6 at the beginning of their final term and following that up with a second profile at the end of their first term in Year 7. This has helped enormously in managing student and parental stress, reduced the settling-in period and enabled teachers to make better use of the first few weeks of Year 7.
It is here that a student’s understanding and ownership of the way in which they learn begins to tell its own story. It defines their ability to move through the transition from instruction towards self-direction and observation.
ELLI profiling is used to build the confidence of those students who come out of Year 11 with examination results that fall short as a measure of their ability.
Understanding how a student learns is a critical guide not only to career choice but to the choice of a future learning pathway, be that the practical or the academic.
The introduction of an ELLI profile to a student’s CV adds a dimension that informs the recipient.
ELLI and its assessment of Learning Power will be a passport for life if the student has been given ownership of it and the confidence to use it.
Elli has long been used as a tool in recruitment at all levels from Chief Executives to apprentices and graduate trainees.
It is used most particularly …
To determine the potential Resilience of would-be Team Leaders.
Every organization is characterized not only by its DNA but by the manner in which it addresses and engages its community as it seeks to obtain a reputation for building powerful learners.
Employees will need to be encouraged to talk about and to demonstrate their experiences as learners. Working with employers and volunteering will showcase their resilience, confidence and independence and give them the opportunity to contribute to the modelling of a Learning Culture recognizable beyond the workplace gates.
Resilience … encouraging those with whom they come into contact also to take ‘ownership’ of their learning;
Promoting learning as a lifelong endeavor;
Creativity … proving that with a little imagination even the most challenging problems can usually be resolved;
Critical Curiosity … you don’t have to believe everything you are told. The dangers of perpetuating rumor, fake news and misinformation;
Meaning Making … every new piece of knowledge or experience can speak to us through what we already know to be a fact if we let it;
Learning Relationships … learning can come from even the most unexpected sources;
Strategic Awareness … fear and uncertainty in a troubled world can be overcome by understanding how we learn and taking ownership of the part we can play in making it a happier place;
Changing and Learning … learning drives our ability to change destructive habits and behaviors.
In the majority of organizations the audit creates heightened expectation of change with leaders listening to their stakeholders and distributing an outline action plan. It therefore becomes important to:
In an ideal world, the development and management of Learning Power would become integral to every organization so that mastery of the ‘what’, or subject matter, is driven by the ‘how’.
Attention is paid to each employee’s understanding of how they learn and the very real influence that this understanding has on their performance, both socially and in the workplace. It is essential to their capacity to take advantage of life’s opportunities and to make the most of the choices with which they will be presented. Every member of staff should be enabled to have the capacity, courage and confidence to take ‘ownership’ of their learning, to use their strengths productively and to learn how to address their weaknesses.
The development and management of the Learning Power of the staff compliment but its adoption also puts demands on the learning habits and behaviors of their managers. The development of a learning culture is built on the confidence to share knowledge and experience and, importantly, to welcome classroom observation.
Observation is so often viewed as an invasion but in an environment committed to learning, becomes the platform for a partnership between colleagues.
Elli is often used to track the ‘value added’ of external courses and prescribed internal interventions.
Departmental Response leading to individual roles, personal engagement, projects and action plans
Well-developed learning cultures involve their staff in the development of their managers. This is found to accelerate the acceptance of learning as a way of life and to motivate staff to improve their own understanding of not only how they learn but their application of that understanding to their studies.
Many schools aspire to becoming established as the center for learning throughout their communities but come to recognize that there is much more to it than simply the offer of a wide range of programs.
The key is in ‘community’ in its widest possible definition and the bringing together of education, employment, entertainment and events that both inform and challenge.
The building of relationships with feeder schools and colleges, the sharing of teaching staff where specialists are at a premium, engagement of new parents and such as hobby, arts and crafts and evening classes already play their part. However, little attention is often paid to the potential role of employers and the therapies that enable the elderly and infirm to move painlessly from independence to dependence
SCHOOLS and EMPLOYERS
What’s in it for the employer?
What about the school?
However robust the process of planning and implementing a Learning Culture within an organization’s wider fabric has been, it will only be as successful as the seriousness with which progress is monitored and changes in circumstance accommodated.
Plans should be updated every 6 months with a thorough and substantial review made annually.
The trap into which many organizations fall is to file the plan as a job well done and successfully completed. Plans should be working documents with all stakeholders encouraged to have their say on a regular basis but most important of all, they should be the framework for problem-solving and the taking of all major strategic decisions.