Teaching as a part of the learning process? This is not only a good method to learn something, but also one of the most efficient ones.
Let’s start with Sam’s story:
Sam is a young architect. In his leisure time, he loves to take pictures. He has been doing great with his small digital camera, but since his last trip to Thailand, he decided to buy a reflex camera, to improve the quality of his photographs. In order to learn how to use it to its full potential, he started watching some video-tutorials. Every time he has a question, he posts it in an online forum in which people with the same camera give him some hints about the settings. Every weekend he goes out to test the new settings he has discovered, he takes pictures in different angles and uses different lenses. He also joined a photographer community in his city and once a month there is a meetup where he is able to ask questions in person to other photography-enthusiasts. Last time he got to know Catherine, who is a professional photographer and uses the same camera he has! What a perfect encounter! She gave him many helpful hints and he is now pretty excited to take the best pictures during his next trip – this time he is heading to India!
Nowadays we learn a lot by ourselves, just like Sam. Every time we google something or watch a short tutorial or read an infographics on a subject or have a chat with our colleagues about a new device or a new app that helps us in our daily work – this is all learning.
Once we are into something and our interest grows, we may try to find other people with the same interests to discuss about their views and experiences. We learn, we share, we connect. We talk about what we have learned, we get to see it from other perspectives, we dive deeper into the topic to find out more – and learn more.
It’s all about the motivation behind it. Sharing and connecting is an important part of the learning process as it keeps the motivation-level high: the exchange with other “enthusiasts” on the same topic makes it more fun to keep going.
The last step is when we get to the point that we are able to teach others about what we have learned.
Let’s get back to Sam:
After a year trying out new things with his camera, Sam has become a true expert: he knows which settings are best for which weather and light, which angle is best for taking pictures of persons, which one is more suitable for landscapes and buildings. His knowledge and experience have expanded a lot and he enjoys sharing all of it with others. He discovered that many people struggle with the same questions he had when he started his “learning journey” with his camera – so he decided to do some video-tutorials himself in which he not only explains the settings of the camera, but combines his knowledge with his experience. He remembers that when he started out, he missed the transfer from theory to practice – this is why in his tutorials, he includes self-taken pictures to show better what he means when explaining the effects of each setting on the quality of the pictures.
Sam was a learner, now he is a teacher. He knows exactly what the target group needs, as he himself was a learner before. He is able to explain what he has learned and even improve the way of how to share his knowledge. He answers questions and accompanies others in their learning process – and he keeps learning more every day.
In the last years, many companies have recognized the importance of enabling their employees to share the learnings and connect with others to improve the outcomes of corporate learning – and started implementing learning communities in their enterprise social network. But what about having motivated employees who may be experts in a specific subject to teach their colleagues on what they have learned? This would be a true innovative corporate learning 4.0: learning, connecting, teaching – saving costs and multiplying the outcomes.