Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 1 - I am Peter Gibbons

Every staff member at the library in order to maintain their certification must acquire, every five years, 90 "contact hours" of "Continuing Education Units (CEUs)."  90 hours every five years may not sound like a lot, but it is more challenging than one would think.  I am on year 4.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 hours.  The library has encouraged everyone to use an online staff training program known as "Skillsoft" to gain CEU's to supplement the conferences and trainings that traditionally provide those hours.

"Skillsoft" involves spending an hour or two staring a screen flipping through what are essentially poorly designed powerpoint slides relating to a specified course.  Occasionally, these are broken up by brief quizzes to test your ability to remember what your glazed-over eyes read on the previous slide, or view a brief and completely not-contrived-at-all vignette starring an aggressively multicultural workforce who interact with all the dynamism of a 1960's Turing test.

After taking several courses with lofty titles - "Generating Creative and Innovative Ideas," "The Individual's Role in a Team," and (my favorite) "Knowledge as Strategy: Performance Improvement" - I am now (over)qualified to converse with members of the grown-up corporate business world.  I can blend right in with the insight that "knowledge management is the ability to create value from a company's intangible assets;" or I can offer the advice to "tailor your technology choices to your own company's knowledge requirements" to a fellow co-worker before asking if their SDL (self-directed learning) strategy fits in with their IDP (individual development plan).

"Learning" in this context seems more like "corporate indoctrination."  It feels useful to me only in the respect that it gives me an insight that people out there actually think about business in these terms, and that I, if I find myself sharing an elevator ride with a man in a dark suit and a heavy briefcase, should be prepared with small talk about how essential it is to "distinguish between the target and source domains of specified analogies."

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