Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To-learn list - to have or not to!

This month's Learning Circuits Big Question is interesting. It's interesting because of how it got generated. Jim Collins wrote "A true learning person also has a “to-learn” list, and the items on that list carry at least as much weight in how one organizes his or her time as the to-do list.”

The questions that we are discussing are:

  • If you have a to-learn list and are willing to share, and willing to share how you work with that list, that would likely be helpful information.
  • As Knowledge Workers, work and learning are the same, so how does a to-learn list really differ from a to-do list? How are they different than undirected learning through work, blogging, conferences, etc.?
  • Are to-learn lists really important to have? Are they as important as what Jim Collins tells us?
  • Should they be captured? Is so how?
  • How does a to-learn list impact something like a Learning Management System in a Workplace or Educational setting?
  • What skills, practices, behaviors do modern knowledge workers need around to-learn lists?

Phew! These are a lot of questions and I can't attempt to answer all. But in general, here is my view! I wonder if I have a different to-do list and a to-learn list! Somehow, the to-learn list is included in my to-do list. All learning happens as a part of what I am doing currently or what I want to do in the future. In that sense, the to-learn is intertwined with the to-do to such an extent that sometimes I fail to notice just how much I need to learn to be able to do! Okay enough of the mumbo jumbo - but really I never have made a separate to-learn list. The question here made be think about it and extract my to-learns and here is something on my current to-learn list that I eventually want to do!

- learn to apply web2.0 technologies in the courses/training I design
- learn to use mind mapping software for collaborative design/development
- learn to play the guitar and sing like a rock star!

I realize that capturing a to-learn list is important to the extent you like to work with to-do lists. The way I look at it, I can split my list into short-term and long-term. Most of my short-term to-learn activities are connected with things that I do, more as in-step rather than a planned learning activity. For example, only today I was trying to learn how to help my friend change some settings for her Picassa album. I didn't feel the need to learn until I was doing and realized I didn't know how. Similarly, every day I learn from many blogs in an unplanned manner. The to-learns in these cases could never have been captured in any lists. But are equally important. So, sure – to give things the right momentum – one should capture the to-learns. But I wouldn’t make too much fuss about it.
Some of my long-term to-learns are stored as draft emails, others as favorite links, and still others in my notepad. So, doesn’t matter whether it’s on paper or on my mind as long as I am working towards it and learning…

What is important is that as knowledge workers we need to be continuously learning; with or without a to-learn list!