As I’ve been reflecting on what I want to do as a training professional, the word “nurture” keeps coming to mind.  Maybe it’s just that there is 4 inches of snow on everything right now and the earth beneath is frozen solid, or maybe it’s just that anything over 20 degrees F is “pretty warm outside” 😦 , but, I’ve been looking forward to tilling our garden and planting.  Nurture is a word that I’ve come to appreciate, and find myself using alot, these last few weeks.

With this mindset in particular, I loved Jay Cross’ description of Learnscaping

Informal learning is about situated action, collaboration, coaching, and reflection, not study and reading. Developing a platform to support informal learning is analogous to landscaping a garden. A major component of informal learning is natural learning, the notion of treating people as organisms in nature. Our role as learning professionals is to protect their environment, provide nutrients for growth, and let nature take its course. Self-service learners connect to one another, to ongoing flows of information and work, to their teams and organizations, to their customers and markets, not to mention their families and friends.

Because the design of informal learning ecosystems is analogous to landscape design, I will call the environment of informal learning a learnscape. A landscape designer’s goal is to conceptualize a harmonious, unified, pleasing garden that makes the most of the site at hand. A learnscaper strives to create a learning environment that increases the organization’s longevity and health, and the individual learner’s happiness and well-being. Gardeners don’t control plants; managers don’t control people. Gardeners and managers have influence but not absolute authority. They can’t make a plant fit into the landscape or a person fit into a team.

A learnscape is a learning ecology. It’s learning without borders.”

Here’s a suggestion: if you haven’t, or haven’t for a long time, nurture a “plant growing area” in the next couple of months.  Not “keep a plant alive in my cubicle”, but GROW something.  It can be indoors or out, whatever fits your fancy. Make it big enough to fill up at least a 2ftx2ft area.  Start from scratch – use seeds not starts. 

  1. Tear out a [small] piece of your yard or buy/build a planter box if you don’t have a yard.
  2. Tend and amend the soil.  Make the conditions right specifically for those (not just any) plant(s) you’ll be growing.  Think about growing your own tomatoes, carrots, or peppers.  These are pretty common and cheap enough to buy in the store, but always taste better when homegrown.
  3. Don’t plan on just growing them, grow them very well.
  4. Nurture them to fruition, with a hearty helping of patience.
  5. Blog about what you learn…

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Use It or Loose It

January 2007
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