The conversation at lunchtime wandered across a whole host of topics: the power of the subconscious, military service, the importance (or not) of punctuality, knitting, extreme ironing (if you don’t know about it, find out) and, finally, the effectiveness of ironing in a weightless vacuum.

It is always interesting to discover other people’s interests; you never know what you might discover, or who you might discover it from. Sometimes it can be something useful, like how to learn to trust your subconscious. Sometimes it can be informative, like cultural differences in approaches to timekeeping. And sometimes it can be unexpected, like pondering the efficacy of ironing in a vacuum. The lunchtime conversation is a fascinating thing.

Agreed. But what does this have to do with L&D?

3m
You

Quite a lot.

This lunchtime conversation, like many, explored ideas and revealed knowledge. Even casual interactions are learning opportunities: social learning in its most literal sense.

But these learning opportunities only occur because you are interacting. I don’t think anyone present had expected to discuss extreme ironing or the subconscious. But we did, and I, at least, learnt something from it. And by creating these links and uncovering these interests and skills, everyone know has an extra someone to call on. That’s whether they want to know something about extreme ironing in particular, or just want to use the developing network to work on something else. It is the network, often more than the formal content, that is the learning asset.

So building a network is important for learning?

2m
You

Yes! The more people in the conversation, the more sources of knowledge there are. And the more sources of knowledge there are, the more likely you are to learn something new and something useful.

Open this conversation up online and the network can grow and grow. It won’t be limited by how many people can fit round the lunch table or in the workshop room. The more nodes, the greater the collective intelligence, the more you can learn from both the experts and the interested.

To end, I’d like to practice what I preach and ask you to share your thoughts and your knowledge. Can you solve the lunchtime ironing dilemma? Could an astronaut on a space walk do the ironing? Are the lack of gravity, the lack of pressure, and the cold insurmountable problems? Is ironing even necessary in a vacuum? Please do let us know by tweeting @RhizomeLive with your thoughts. The lunch room will be grateful!

Lizzie Evans - Learning Consultant, Rhizome Live

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