Sunday, June 05, 2011

Learning by Conversation and Doing

I had some on-the-job learning last weekend.

I had to install shades in our kitchen. So, a couple of weeks back, I went to our local hardware store to find out what I can buy and how I can install. I had little idea about shades and had postponed this task for years. Couple of visits to HomeDepot earlier had not helped in any way to get the job done.

When I spoke to the designer at the local hardware store, sensing that I was clueless, she taught me how to measure a window. I learned that it not enough to get one measurement. It is necessary to measure the top, the middle, and the bottom of the window because no window is perfect and your measurements need to be accurate to the 1/8th of an inch. This lesson was learnt through a simple conversation.

She also told me how manufacturers cut the window shades and how much clearance they provide based on your dimensions. I learned the fact that you need to provide actual dimensions of your window and manufacturers will make the necessary reduction in width to fit the window. HunterDouglas, from whom I bought the shades, provides 1/8th of an inch clearance based on the dimensions you provide.

Since I had to do the job myself, I paid attention and listened carefully to what she said. Since she was an expert with years of experience, she spoke in simple sentences with no jargon. Our conversations lasted only a few minutes.

The shades arrived last week and I installed them. My knowledge of shades and confidence in installing them went up tremendously. It got me thinking. Why don't we do more learning by conversation with experts at work. Why don't we have more learning by doing something. Is that not the most efficient way to learn? Why do we place so much emphasis on hour long online learning programs where someone, who has no clue about the subject matter, bores you to death with hundreds of slides.

Image above is from the HunterDouglas web site. The product I bought  is Brilliance Pleated Shades.
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