When will we ever learn?

At the end of June, Chris Cooper-Bland and I will be running a session at the SPA2014 conference called “When will we ever learn“. The main objective of this session is to identify blockers to making learning part of business-as-usual in a software development environment and to come up with some approaches that people can take to remove these blockers. The session is positioned as a Think Tank which looks to produce concrete outputs. In order for this to succeed, we need to make sure that it focuses on working through the blockers and potential approaches rather than acting as a 101 tutorial about learning. This is particularly important as we only have 75 minutes to work with. To help avoid it becoming simply a tutorial, we are asking people who are interested in attending the session to do a little pre-reading to make sure everyone starts at a minimum level. If you are thinking of attending the session, please could you read and reflect on at least some of the articles linked to on the topics below.

The information about each topic is split into two parts: “Please read” and “if you have more time”. To read all the “Please read” material should take about an hour. The “if you have time” materials are more like 3 hours (or more if you follow all the downstream links!).

How we learn

  • Growth vs fixed mindset. Having a growth mindset implies that you need to embrace failure/risk taking as part of a learning cycle. By avoiding opportunities where you might fail limits your ability to improve.
  • Learning as a structured process – learning things, linking them then applying them in different contexts than that in which you learned them (the latter aka Transfer of Learning)


Assessing what you know

  • There are structured frameworks for particular roles and professional areas, such as the BCS SFIA Plus framework. The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is an international skills and competency framework that describes IT roles and the skills needed for them.


Learning in an organization

  • Lean learning. What are we trying to learn? One of the lean software development principles is Amplify Learning but much of the literature seems to focus on the learning of the problem domain rather than of learning new techniques and technologies in the solution domain. However, teams often use learning spikes around problem domain topics (how do we replicate data using the type of database we have chosen?) as well as solution domain topics. Can we adopt other solution domain approaches to gaining skills and knowledge (e.g. fail fast)?


Still reading?

And finally, if you feel really inspired to find out more about how we learn, you could do worse than start with this 26-page Word document here (http://www.macalester.edu/academics/geology/wirth/learning.doc)


20140807 – The slides have now been posted on slideshare.

One thought on “When will we ever learn?

  1. Pingback: The impact of learning? | blueskyline

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