Express (Darien Law/

E-mail is formal learning

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Technology has enabled new conversations across time and space. Yet e-mail, for example, has become a formal medium, subjected to some of the same rules of consensus that prevail in other formal spaces for dialogue. It can be argued that reading and responding to e-mail requires stopping our (other) work. We also have to figure out how to apply what we learn from e-mail to your work – the applicability problem. (The fact that it is equivalent to a postcard in terms of security is a different issue). Etiquette for a new medium must be negotiated over time, and confusion persists as different people apply differing assumptions about what can be said and how to say it. Photo: Express (Darien Law/  

Nails (Adam Rosenberg/


Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Applicability is the brick wall of formal training approaches. Not only do we first have to stop work to attend a training, but once the training is completed, the challenge is then to figure out how to apply what we learned to daily work. It is estimated that, on the average, applicability of a well-designed workshop using the best participatory methods (such as simulations, dialogue, problem-solving, etc.) is around ten percent. Nevertheless, we apply new knowledge and skills from formal training, especially on managing teams or administration-related tasks such as finance or procurement, not directly related to our core technical skills. Yet, many of us have fond memories of formal training – irrespective of whether or not we were able to apply any of our learning to our work. Despite difficulty in recalling both the content of formal training and how we were able to apply, we remain willfully optimistic about …

The Longest Carpet Fringe (Theen Moy/

Formal learning of the past

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Formal learning in the past includes formal education and qualifications obtained. They serve as credentials of value to establish that we know – part of building relationships of trust – and provide frameworks of reference (“shelves”) to make sense of new knowledge. From the past, we also draw on personal experience, attitudes, and values acquired or developed in formal education but also from personal life, family and community. As working professionals, we may think of higher education as a “thing of the past”. Nevertheless, formal qualifications matter for our personal brand and remain the prevailing currency in hiring practices. We draw on frameworks, tools and methods we learned in formal study. Foundational elements obtained through formal qualifications may be mobilized as fall-back or to drawn on an “overarching discipline of thought and the rigor of thinking” to help “navigate informal learning”. “We learn foundational elements through courses,” explains George Siemens, “but we innovate through our own learning” (Siemens 2006:131). Photo: The Longest …