The I Learnt This button, CPD and unstructured learning
When you sign up for one of the many courses we’ve produced for the Learning Line, you’ll notice an invitation to add a button to your browser toolbar.
It’s the ‘I Learnt This’ button. It makes your personal Learning Line even better and it allows you to keep track of both the formal and unstructured learning you do online.
A CPD problem solved
For some time, professional bodies have been aware that unstructured learning is an important part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). They don’t want to turn out identikit certificate holders who can answer all the questions in their professional exams but have no creativity, curiosity about related fields, or ability to consider new ideas.
Instead, they want their members to get a solid grip of the basics and a wider view of their work – the ethics, the IT, the economics and the innovations that are happening in the broader environment of their profession. They’re also aware that some topics are difficult to learn and students need them presented in a variety of ways before they finally “get it”.
Much of the material they need to achieve this wider view is available online in the form of academic papers, YouTube videos, news articles, PDFs, databases and forums. At Coracle, our shorthand for this type of learning is “unstructured learning”, and it has certain characteristics:
- It’s reflective, in the sense that it often involves the percolation of ideas rather than the rote learning of facts.
- It’s serendipitous, because useful online material is often discovered by browsing, following links, and making unexpected connections.
- It’s multi-channel, in the sense that it embraces learning in all sorts of online formats, from video to podcasts, webinars, interactive graphics, quizzes and games.
- It’s self-directed but complementary to structured learning. It’s not enough to send learners out with the instruction to “do some unstructured learning”; to have meaning, it must be relevant to the themes and topics of a more formal CPD. It must clarify structured learning, set it into context and open up avenues for specialisation.
Capturing unstructured learning and validating it as an important part of CPD is notoriously difficult. The ‘I Learnt This’ button finally tackles the problem, easily and effectively.
How to use the I Learnt This button in real life
Imagine you’re following a structured course on insurance. You’re already recording everything you do on your Learning Line, but you want some additional background on contracts. So you search Google and watch a video of a talk explaining liability, read an article about the London insurance market and study an important case about fraud. It’s all useful stuff, but how can you both remember what it was about and record the fact that you’ve studied this extra material? The simple answer is to hit the ‘I Learnt This’ button, which will add what you’ve been looking at to your Learning Line. In this way, your Learning Line starts to give a picture of your learning as it happens in real life, not just as it happens according a structured course textbook.
The ‘I Learnt This’ button is useful because it reflects and records the way people are beginning to learn now. It is much more self-directed, and it favours those who take the initiative by exploring the online content available to them.