Dan Hensley: Community-based programs help passionate learners | TribLIVE.com
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Dan Hensley: Community-based programs help passionate learners


According to experts — and a famous ratio — 90% of how we learn is considered informal learning. That’s because 70% of how we learn is from experience and 20% is from peers. The other 10% is through self-directed learning.

Add it all up and you have the 70:20:10 ratio, which first came about in the 1980s from a report by the Center for Creative Leadership. Decades later, there are conflicting studies about whether 70:20:10 is still relevant, and the belief that people continue to learn on the job is disputed by some. Regardless, all parties agree on one point — ongoing professional development and learning is key, no matter your age or where you stand in your organization’s totem pole.

It’s not always feasible to go back to school or pay for a training, but fortunately, with the rise of digital age came the rise of online learning platforms. While it’s commonly known that online courses are popular among college students, they are also popular among professionals and people looking to learn new skills, being seen as an affordable and convenient alternative to the traditional classroom.

Millions of people use Udemy, Coursera and Lynda, popular online learning platforms that offer thousands of courses teaching skills in photography, computer programming, business, design and more. But despite these programs being available online, there is still a fee involved — that is, unless you’re a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh cardholder, giving you free access to Lynda.com.

Online learning is growing in popularity — yet not everyone prefers it, especially if there may be a digital literacy gap. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, 16% of U.S. adults are not digitally literate, meaning they do not have basic computer skills. So, what’s a continued learning opportunity that is free, accessible and open to different learning styles?

That’s where community-based learning comes in. Also called peer-to-peer learning, it is a form of learning that takes place in the community, led by community members who are experts in that topic. Library-goers can now take advantage of this type of learning as part of its Learning Circles programming.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is always interested in hearing from people who are eager to learn with other people, whether they want to be a facilitator or a participant.

For example, for someone who knows the ins and outs of Python, a programming language software, and is interested in sharing their knowledge with others, the library will offer training on how to share the best practices and lead a class. Expertise in not necessary — the library is simply looking for people who are passionate about learning.

Some of the classes already underway for November, include American Sign Language, Computer Skills 101 and Basic Line Drawing. This month, the library is partnering with Acumen, a global nonprofit organization, to analyze Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” With a goal to help participants learn how to address social injustice and explore their own views and beliefs, the four-week class will explore justice, extremism and activism. A list of additional workshops and opportunities to learn can be found here.

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