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P. de Vries, H. K. Lukosch, M. G. F. Overschie

Delft University of Technology (NETHERLANDS)
Nowadays, knowledge sharing and learning have become critical assets for most companies because of the swift socio-economic and technological changes. Furthermore, in many companies sustainable development is of growing importance. This requires so called first and second order change. First order change focuses on changing problem definitions of reality (radical innovations). Second order change builds upon existing knowledge skills, routines and standard solutions within a given context (incremental innovations). These often originate from the shop floor of companies and are routed in routines and implicit knowledge. This paper describes a Microtraining Method as has been developed and tested for effective knowledge sharing “on companies’ floors” towards sustainability.

Traditional training and learning can not cope with the rising demands on flexibility in time and space, the relevance of the content, the availability of experts and the applicability at the workplace of what is learned. The need for new concepts is very much related to the discussion on formal and informal learning. Formal learning only counts for 20% of what people need to know to do their job well. The other 80 % is acquired by informal learning that takes place in the vicinity of the workplace. On the other hand, it is about 80% of the training budget that goes to formal learning which means that companies overinvest in formal training programs, while missing out on the opportunity to foster the more natural and informal learning processes.

For informal learning to flourish it is crucial to develop flexible mechanisms that support this kind of learning while avoiding the drawbacks that coincide with informality and that foster a sustainable way of knowledge developing, sharing and keeping. The Microtraining method is such a concept to support ongoing informal learning practices. Microtraining helps to structure individual self learning actions and materials, e-learning and other learning activities, while focusing on the applicability of what is learned and needed in the workplace. In our article we describe the theoretical background of the Microtraining method we developed as well as its practical application.

The Microtraining method is developed on the basis of learning theories and concepts such as social constructivism and connectivism to support informal and both individual and collective learning in organizations. Experiences with the Microtraining method in practice show that the short, structured procedure of a Microtraining-session or a serial of learning sessions brings people together and offers a way to deal with the challenges of today’s learning demands of life long learning. In the first line, it can be seen as support mechanism on second order changes.

A Microtraining arrangement comprises a time span of 15-20 minutes for each learning occasion, which can activate and maintain learning processes for a longer period if they are bundled up in series, being face-to-face, online or in an e-learning situation. Microtraining is especially suitable for those whose basic knowledge needs to be refreshed or improved and who need information for immediate use in their daily practice. Microtraining fosters the exchange of knowledge and enhances informal learning processes in companies. The goal of Microtraining in combination with questions of sustainability offers companies an effective way to improve their performance towards sustainability.