|Management Self-Development - A Guide for Managers, Organisations and Institutions (ILO, 1985, 282 p.)|
|Chapter 10. What can institutions do to encourage self-development?|
The shortage of appropriate training and other materials is one of the biggest obstacles to self-development. This shortage is particularly acute in developing countries and generally in places that are far from industrial, administrative, and educational centres.
In this area, management institutions can play a particularly useful, though not spectacular, role.
Libraries of self-development materials
As a start you can establish a library of books, reports, periodicals, training packages, bibliographies and other materials needed for self-development. Most management institutions have a library and make it available both to staff and to course participants. Building a library for wider use in self-development processes is not the same thing. For example, you may have to establish a service providing advice to managers on what materials to choose, and also make sure that you have a sufficient number of copies of materials that will be in great demand.
Producing self-development materials
A collection of self-development materials acquired from other countries and institutions can be very useful. An even more valuable contribution could be made if your institution produces some materials of its own, adapted to the specific conditions in which your clients (managers and organisations) live, work and learn. In some cases this might be achieved by modifying existing materials that are intended for adaptation by local professional institutions. These materials may even include guidelines on feasible ways of adapting them to varying conditions (sectoral, cultural, etc.).
Materials for correspondence courses and self-development packages
As already discussed in chapter 6, a special case of structured material provision is the correspondence course. This requires a careful identification of objectives, with materials prepared to meet those objectives. The preparation of materials is a specialist subject in itself, that would need a whole book devoted to it. However, as a brief introduction we can make a few points here.
It almost goes without saying that the material should be presented in a logical sequence. However, this is not in itself sufficient. For example, it is essential that you bear the readers in mind, and write in a style that they will find acceptable. This often means leaving out certain erudite asides that might be found interesting by a different group of readers (e.g. fellow academics), but that will only confuse the learners for whom the material is primarily intended.
It is also helpful to show where one set of information relates to other parts, both things that went before, and others yet to come.
A good package, or correspondence course, is not the same as a textbook. A textbook gives a lot of relevant facts, but it is not designed to guide or teach, since it is normally used by a teacher or instructor. A package or correspondence course has to include "the teacher" within it, and therefore must do each of the following:
- arouse attention and motivate;
- make the reader aware of expected outcomes of the material;
- link up with previous knowledge and interest;
- present the material to be studied, including exercises and activities;
- guide and structure, with guidance and help for learning;
- provide feedback;
- promote transfer - i.e. application to the reader's job;
- help retention, or memory.
It also helps if you provide a variety of material, such as straightforward information, examples, quotations, pictures, diagrams, tables, exercises and suggestions for activity. Your readers will also find the material easier if you present information in three stages, namely:
- a summary of what you are going to write;
- the main content;
- a summary of what you have just written.
The style you use is very important. Most experts in this field believe that it is best to be fairly informal, and to address the reader as "you", whilst referring to the writer(s) as "we" (in fact, you will probably have noticed this throughout this book itself, which is a type of package).
Most packages and correspondence courses are produced in written form (hand-outs, booklets, exercises, etc.). However, you can consider other media, including tapes, radio, video and television. These can provide wide access to people all over a territory, and also suit better for individuals who learn more easily from other than written material.
If at all possible, you should consider some means of providing two-way communication as part of a package or course. The usual way is through written assignments, but local coaching and counselling (either individually or in groups) can be very helpful. Ideally, a system of local tutors, coaches, counsellors, call them what you may, could be established. This may well be through involving other institutions in different parts of the territory.
There are other ways of establishing two-way communication, although they have some disadvantages. One method is by telephone - if it is available - such that learners may have a telephone tutorial at appropriate times. There have been experiments in remote parts of Canada with two-way television link-ups, but these demand considerable technological investment, the cost of which might well be more usefully spent on simpler things.
As well as publicly-available materials, an institution might well become involved, on a consultancy basis, in the preparation of materials and resources for use by a specific organisation.
An institution can also play a valuable part by having rooms available for managers so that they can come and use them for studying. Ideally a range of rooms can be made available, including reading rooms for individual study, and rooms for working in groups of 5 to 15 people.
Information on self-development materials
More and more institutions are establishing an information base and service, for individual managers and for organisations, on materials that can be used in self-development. You will, of course, include information on materials that your institution holds in its library and can make available (purchased materials and materials developed by yourselves). But you can go beyond that. There are directives and categories of audio-visual and similar packages and you may include some in your library. Furthermore, you can also collect and provide information on materials produced and made available by other institutions, this may be particularly useful in countries where the purchase of materials published abroad takes a long time or can be blocked by foreign-exchange restrictions.