While I don't have to go through the rigmarole of doing this stuff at ThoughtWorks - we already have a pretty robust social learning infrastructure; I can imagine today's webinar should be very useful for most L&D professionals.
So with this, I'll begin my live blogged notes to cover a session that promises to be really useful and timely for the kind of world we've stepped into as learning professionals.
The big question -- why should we be looking at Social Learning today?Lots of answers to this one:
- 70% of learning is informal
- It's power and impact
- Relevant and contextualised to work
- People learn from each other
- It ties to modern technology and makes learning more effectivel
- We're in an increasingly mobile world
- Lot's of pressure to do things quickly
- Generational change in the workplace
- Growth of social media in recent years
When facing information overload, making it impossible to keep up -- social learning can help manage the load.
We're being driven to be more agile and add value -- this means we need to work smart.
We are increasingly mobile - yet we need to collaborate.
Right you are, Hanif!
So, what is social learning?Very simply put, it's about learning from each other -- and we do this already. The workplace is the best place to learn because learning is contextualised to your current situation. Practitioners make the best teachers, because they know the 'real' ways to get things done. As someone's already said, "Information out of context, trumps instruction out of context."
On a shoestring, though?Most of our tools are new, most models are new, most organisations are very early on in their journey so from that perspective we need to manage the risk of these projects. So the shoestring comes in so that you can put something up without risking in everything based on industry buzz.
There are heaps of free tools:
Saffron's take on Social Learning
Hanif showed us what they've come up with using Elgg, at Saffron. Seems to have heaps of features:
- User Profiles - to understand who does what and what are they good at?
- Social Bookmarks - for generating collective wisdom (ala delicious)
- File sharing
- Social Networks
- Groups - great for communities of practice
Swatch is another great example of using Elgg to create something really usable, pretty and successful. Their site is a nice way to connect with the external world. Wow! I knew Elgg was great, but not this great!
For the umpteenth time in the day another of my favourite tools gets mentioned - Yammer. We're using Yammer quite successfully and at my team, we've done away with standups because of Yammer and we use this greatly for knowledge sharing.
Something Hanif brought up was around using external tools like Linkedin to build your company network using group features. I think this is something we should do more and more. The most important thing to remember is that these tools are mobile friendly -- so the more we use these, the more we can help people learn in the short time spaces they have. This is obviously arguable given learning requires commitment. That said, doing assessments, showing video, status updates, etc can happen using mobiles. Why make it difficult -- social media should make our life easy!
Building Vibrant CommunitiesAccording to Hanif, the key to doing this is around 6 major points:
- Address a business need - if you cant articulate this, it's perhaps not worth it!
- Consider the organisational culture - not every culture can sustain things like this with existing culture. How can you help make collaboration a part of your culture? What evangelism and nurturing will your communities need?
- Use the term 'knowledge media' not 'social media' - Andrew Mcafee's said this too!
- Involve stakeholders
- Find some champions and 'just do it'
- Measure and learn - everyone's learning and you need to adapt quickly with what works and discard what doesn't work at the right speed.
- Research and agility -- we find solutions faster, we learn faster
- Talent Management - you can soon start to recognise your best people and spend less time on archaic performance management processes
- Driver for creativity -- people learn from each other, so they are likely to build on each other's ideas and raise the innovation quotient of the company.
- Start on a shoestring
- Find and communicate the business need and benefits
- Use it as part of a blend -- you don't want to put all your eggs in the social learning basket. That may just not provide the breadth your audience needs. There's a place for fomal learning, elearning, virtual classrooms and everything else.