A new study from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario that looks at how people learn technology in organizations finds formal methods are least common. Hands-on and peer-based forms of informal and incidental learning occur most often.
The study also identified six types of learners: purposive planners, explorers, visionaries, problem solvers, reluctant learners and pinballs. The January 2010 issue of Impact published by the Ivey Business School defines the categories as follows:
“Purposive planners are very structured and self-disciplined in their approach. They plan carefully and with a lot of attention to detail, and once they’ve made their plan they act on it.”
“Explorers find time to learn on their own because they find it fun or useful. They might for example, stop in the middle of a task and spend some time looking at menu choices or drilling down into new areas.”
“Visionaries are people who find out about new technologies and think about what these could do for them personally and in their organizations. Visionaries are sometimes explorers. They tend to be lateral thinkers, and look at technology from a very strategic perspective.”
“Problem solvers are not necessarily interested in technology, but are very interested in mastering their workplace tasks. They tend to have a strong task-oriented mindset.”
“Pinballs are people who don’t think about learning, but simply bounce around between technologies, picking up knowledge while they’re being buffeted about. They tend to do a lot of incidental learning, and some actually become quite capable users of technology.
”Reluctant learners “are people who don’t really see the value of technology in their jobs. They simple focus on what they have to learn to survive in the organization.”
Individuals don’t necessarily fit into only one category. The interesting thing about the categories is that they tend to overlap. Some categories may relate to what someone does, while other categories might relate to how that person thinks.