Monday, February 25, 2013

How I learn

[06/45] - Study by Alex Ristea, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Alex Ristea

I decided recently to brush up my CV. I could list many years of experience in all sorts of roles but in one area I realised I was rather weak; formal qualifications. A master's degree, teacher training certificate and a few courses and diplomas here and there but that's about it. No significant certificates or qualifications in the past 8 years. It looks as if I'm not very studious or ambitious.

I suppose I'm a typical informal learner. In the past 10 years I've learnt an awful lot about net-based learning, distance learning and social media simply by reading, testing, tasting, writing and discussing without having taken a single course to prove what I know. What I work with today has no relation whatsoever to my qualifications and even if I can see the value of taking some time to get some credentials I never seem to get round to it. I've learnt fluent Swedish without having any certificates to prove it and have learnt the basics of several other languages without taking a course. So I'm in the embarrassing position of not using the knowledge I've got qualifications in and working in areas where I have few formal credentials. That is maybe not so wise working in the qualification-conscious world of higher education.

However I love to find out things myself and follow my own nose. I jump from one area to another and try to gain an overall view of as much as possible. I've written articles, a mountain of blog posts and discuss with a wonderful network of professionals who are often much wiser and better qualified than I'll ever be. I enjoy the freedom of learning what I want to learn and switching off when I feel like it. I'm not an expert in anything and may well turn my hand to something completely different in the next few years. On the other hand maybe I'll try and push myself through a real course for a change. Just for the hell of it.


  1. A most important posting. I think the kind of learning you describe will grow even more important in the future whereas formal qualifications will decrease in importance. Maybe the MOOCs attracting thousands of people learning out of curiosity and not particularly for credit is a sign of this trend. As to myself, even if I have comparatively good academic qualifications, these have served as a kind of stepping stone in the academy so that I have been able to "buy" some latitude for informatl learning. Today, I would say that you and Stephen Downes are the persons from whom I am learning the most. Thank you for sharing, Alastair!

  2. I work in qualification oriented environment, it is of little importance what I can do and contribut, when my only degree is BA. Hopefully, Lejon's opinion will spread this way too.