About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What are we doing as teachers to make ourselves literate in the workplace?

In a recent comment I posted to Ken Allen, I mentioned that we as teachers have the advantage over our students in that we have the opportunity to create deeper understanding for ourselves by trying to explain concepts and negotiate meaning with our students. To do this however, we need to have interaction with our students.

However, how many instructional designers and trainers are given the opportunity to really discuss a topic indepth with their target audience? How many even have an understanding of the environment in which their students work?

At the conference I attended on Distance Learning last week, one of the presenters spoke of being "blown away" at some of the feedback she had asked for. One of the students felt that her formating requirement for the subject line was in fact making things more difficult for him to follow rather than easier. He was doing the entire course using his blackberry so the e-mail options made him difficult to follow which threads went with which discussions. What surprised her was that he was using a common technology in a different way. Had she not asked for feedback, she would not have been able to make accommodations for his situation.

As a result of these questions, I think we need to be careful as develop work literacies that:
  1. We recognize that these are not stagnant, nor will specific work literacy skills fit all contexts
  2. Workers might have or not have these skills without being aware of it
  3. There is a cultural underpinning with all literacies that might be difficult, yet necessary to identify
  4. Instructional designers and teachers may or may not be aware of the contexts in which their target audience is using, but must ask the right questions to determine student needs and skills
I feel that we should be looking more systematically at the organizations and understand the cultures and epistemologies first. From there, we can begin to identify the various work literacies needed to succeed in the modern workplace. These then can be put into a framework (as Tony has sketched out, but perhaps with broader categories). The framework can then be used to develop different assessment tools, technology, and instructional designs based on the culture and organizational/individual epistemologies. That should only take another 20 years to accomplish!

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