Learning like a 5 year old

A recent Wired Magazine article provides unique perspectives on learning and to a lesser degree recruitment.

The article talks about a senior manager at Yahoo who is a guild leader in World of Warcraft, a massive multi player online game. His position in World of Warcraft has provided him many of the necessary skills needed to succeed at Yahoo.

The article also highlights the differences between planned learning (textbooks, lectures, and classroom instruction) and accidental learning, the type of learning that takes place through daily activities and you don’t realise you have done until afterwards. Accidental learning is primarily based on learning by doing and through experimentation aka failure. This accidental learning is typically how a 5 year old learns, and they do a good job given most can walk and talk without having to got formal classes.

Ross Mayfield has also written about the article who has listed some of the extracurricular items he has begun looking for when hiring:

  • Wiki use, of course
  • Playing a role in World of Warcraft
  • Blogging as context that goes beyond the resume and a sign of a good communicator
  • Participation in ad-hoc events like BarCamp and Wiki Wednesday
  • A basic level of connectivity in LinkedIn, but more importantly a pattern that shows valued connections, not trying to connect with everyone
  • I actually think interests listed at the bottom of a resume like international travel or the outdoors still count for something

It was only 2 weeks ago when Dan Farber claimed the same thing saying that World of Warcraft is a good skill to have on your resume. He also has several quotes from organisations trying to model themselves around these online games and their social interactions.

The question is, do you or your recruiters pay attention to details like these or are you still looking at the basic hardcore skills on the resume? Once you have hired these people is all of your training provided in classroom or do you foster and facilitate accidental learning in the workplace?

2 thoughts on “Learning like a 5 year old

  1. Hi Michael. When I did my MBA the lecturer used Age of Empires to teach us Corporate Strategy! Despite being mocked by other lecturers about it being a soft option and labeling it “Atari 101”– it was certainly one of the better learning experiences. We also had to write a paper at the end discussing the merits of using simulation as a teaching method.

  2. My wife recently completed an online simulation on Middle Eastern Politics as part of a degree she was doing. Students from several universities in Australia and US worked together to simulate the recent elections in Iraq. Overall she found it very enjoyable as well as a fantastic way to learn. In fact because they were “playing” a character in the simulation they had to learn a lot more about the people and the situations than if they just covered the topics using traditional education methods.

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