Wicked Learning Environments – Part 2

Previously I described what wicked learning environments are and introduced the idea of when we can rely on someone with experience. In domains which are marked by fundamental technical knowledge; where that is mostly what is at stake, then having the experienced expert helps. Those are kind learning environments where what they have experienced would sufficiently inform us enough to refine our approach and optimise the outcome.

The problem with the world we reside in now is that things change; and big shifts are happening that can turn kind learning environments into wicked ones. This is especially true for the marketplace. I have previously written about how disruptive startups are changing cultures and that changes the dynamics of the marketplace – it adds new parameters for the competition to consider into the mix.

When that happens, the originally ‘kind’ learning environments turn a bit different. Using back the example of Grab; all of a sudden, being a cab driver isn’t about knowing where to pick up passengers at different times of the day, or knowing the shortest route from point A to B anymore. The driver now have to actually pay attention to the pricing they can get at different times of the day and on the platform vis-a-vis the metered fare. This is way different from the past when they just needed to be able to roughly estimate of the metered fare from one place to another and quickly judge whether they want to take on the job. During the transition, the learning environment quickly turns wicked and as the Grab app algorithm is refined, the learning keeps changing, the old rules of thumb stop working and the players have to adapt. The same happens when new ride-hailing app entrants enter the market.

For someone who prides himself/herself as one who have developed experience and deep expertise, we need to recognise that how much those are valued really depends on the context of the environment, whether things are changing so rapidly as to render those experience/expertise obsolete quickly. This can also happen suddenly (eg. when the world forsake crude oil then rig-building expertise becomes less valuable); so as individuals trying to create the future, we have to think about how we want to really equip and invest in ourselves.

Human capital accumulation is going to shift quite a fair bit.