The ugliness in learning

For several months now, I have been working on picking up some photography skills. But more on that later.
A few years ago, I started clicking around with a prosumer camera in the perpetual quest for a new stories, ever since I started blogging. I recall it being tough to use it.

But I did all the typical things. Read up-Click-Review-submit-get feedback etc! The learning progressed and the quality of the pictures improved. And as the blogging gained traction, there were quite a few appreciative comments about the photography skills as well.

After a few years of playing with it and becoming aware of the camera’s and my own limitations further fuelled by a desire to better quality pictures, a few months back, I invested in a professional DSLR camera. Yes, investment is the word.
Ever since then, its been a battle of sorts. For all the money the camera sucked in, it comes with a multitude of bells, whistles and hooters. It took me a good two days to figure out the basics and many months to get comfortable with it.

Infact I still am on the journey.

Every day, was is a new learning. But it was is clumsy. A struggle. Sometimes, the best of family moments reduced to a plain white sheet or a thick cloak of black in the quest of capturing the moment to perfection.

But guess what, am getting better. I still have to think about every single angle, button and setting. Still messing up. But the gap between mess-ups have only increased. Which is good news.

The four stages of competence  holds my transition rather well. Where I reasonably assumed that the virtue of clicking around for a few years with a prosumer camera automatically gave me the skill to click good pictures with the DSLR as well. How wrong I was.

Very quickly I became conscious about my what a fool I was making of myself. Especially when the family frowns at a lousy mess up of a snap, usually of a critical family moment and wondering aloud, ‘whatever happened to you?’. Pregnant in that question is the automatic upgrade in expectation because of my upgrade to a far more sophisticated camera!

From then on I have been at it. Reading. Reviewing. Clicking. Sharing. More clicking. And seeking feedback. Some feedback is not sophisticated or polite. Yet others are. All of it is valid. But now, by the constant seeking and playing the new tricks that I pick up, I am consciously getting more competent with it than before. At a slower pace than several others, but hey, am enjoying the journey clicking snaps like this! It may not be piping hot but hey, its spewing action!


Hopefully there will be a time, when all of this would come easy. When I would be unconsciously competent. When flicking a the buttons based on the time of the day and the mood to capture, would be second nature.

But until I get there, there is going to be a process of learning. But the point to this post is this : That the road from now on is going to be clumsy! With a collection of gross errors and gingerly mishaps and lousy pictures as proof.

A learning process runs a high potential of snapping or not starting because of the ‘ugliness’ if I were to call it that, of the trying out of the new learning. A workshop could have been energizing and the learners left with a keen desire to try.

But the real learning comes in the trying to implement the learning! In the trying, there is a good chance of failure and making a fool of oneself. Learning professionals must increasingly devote time to this phase where learner performance and trial is supported. There could be a multitude of things that could be done.  And needs to be urgently.

Will Thalheirmer‘s work has been illustrative.

Lets face it, learning is inherently challenging at this phase. A phase where well intentioned goals melt. It is this phase that needs L&D folks to shine their torch on. Especially so, if the context for learning isn’t anchored well and transfer of learning isn’t a mandate. Alas in the melee of organizing programs, collecting feedback and presenting budgets, this is missed.

While performance support tools are many, the role of the immediate manager and colleagues play a role that is often neglected as part of the learning design. In my experience, even an expression of interest on the learning by the immediate manager, has remarkable results for starters.

That brings to bear the question, my pet peeve of sorts: how are immediate managers of learners being involved?
See, as far as my photography where this post began, my wife, family and an extended array of friends, play the role of the ‘interested colleague / friend/boss’! Keen on seeing what new pictures have been clicked and often offering their views!

That in itself has helped me stay the course.

Someday, I wont be consciously reaching out for buttons and manuals. Towards that quest, I am clicking away. Of course  all support is deeply appreciated!

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