“You only have to know one thing. You can learn anything.”
That was the takeaway message from Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. Khan was the closing keynote speaker at this year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Expo in Washington D.C. His presentation told the story of the Khan Academy, which you can see in his TED talk.
But in telling the Khan Academy story, he talked about the future of learning. While many of his comments were in the context of education, some of the concepts he mentions are popular and valuable components of the corporate learning environment.
Flipping the classroom. In traditional education, students learn the lesson/model/theory in the classroom. Homework is the activity that supports the lesson. The Khan Academy encourages students to listen to the lesson outside of the classroom (i.e., prework) then do the activities in the classroom.
Mastery-based learning. Dan Pink in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” says the secret to high performance and employee satisfaction is three things: purpose, mastery, and autonomy. When it comes to skill mastery, the Khan Academy encourages people to practice and experiment with skill learning until they master them.
It got me thinking. From a corporate learning perspective, where’s the Khan Academy of business? Are organizations putting together books, videos, etc. so employees can become lifelong learners? Do employees have time on their schedule just to learn? If we want employees to succeed, they have to be able to learn anything.
In my home state, the workforce agency is asking public schools to include employability skills in their curriculums such as interviewing, communication, teamwork, time management, listening, and networking. A workforce agency representative is quoted as saying, “these are skills that people would need to succeed in any employment situation.” True. Very true. It raises the question, “Where are these skills being learned now?”
I mention what’s happening in my state because it’s an example of a learning gap. We want employees to be successful because, when they are, the organization is successful. But that means organizations have to create a learning culture so they can spend time mastering the skills they need.0