Is Social Learning on Your Radar?

Posted on Apr 24 2012 at 08:56:18 AM in B2B

Is Social Learning on Your Radar?

Curator's Notes: Some of you reading this post might be thinking..."strengthening social learning, I don't even have it in place yet; it's not even on my radar.  And that's the reason why I'm posting it.  It is here, it's coming, so it's your advantage as an HR professional to begin to learn about it. 

Why?  It is my prediction it will be and in some ways already is the most cost effective way to train and develop a staff with a dimensional r-o-i. I will be, in the next few weeks, activating a beta test on a Management Training APP for my clients and so will be able to add tangible information to the mobile - social learning discussion.

For now - enjoy this post courtesy of @Social_LMS's tweet & written by @DasheThomson

Strengthening Social Learning In the Workplace

The training industry has seen plenty of debate around whether or not organizations can and should take steps to strengthen social learning.  Everyone agrees that social learning is very important and that somewhere between 70% and 80% of all learning is done socially and/or informally.  Many thought leaders in the industry believe social learning is something that happens spontaneously and continuously, and that any attempt by an organization to capture, share or strengthen these critical informal learning processes instantly formalizes them.

I just don’t buy it.  Harold Jarche defines social learning as “the lubricant of networked, collaborative work.”  I love that definition!  But Harold, Peter Isacksonand Jay Cross go on to argue that the fundamental key to the success of [social learning] is the notion of “self-organized groups who learn on their own.  If education is to become truly non-invasive, it must refrain from defining both the goals and the means to teach them, entrusting the groups with this task.”

I believe Harold and Jay are missing the point.  Why focus so much on the non-invasiveness of learning instead of analyzing the most effective types of learning for different scenarios?  Harold, Peter and Jay go on to suggest that educational gurus (which I’ll choose to think of as training facilitators) should refrain from outlining touch points ahead of training, but they should challenge these self-organized groups “to account for why they may be neglecting a certain topic or reminded of the interest in pursuing it.”

What’s wrong with giving a piece of direction to trainees from the beginning?  Does it really stifle learning?  Would providing guidance take away from learning’s social nature?  Does a warning sign illuminate indicating training has become formalized, followed immediately by glazed eyes and nap time?

Dashe & Thomson has found a niche creating custom training for large software deployments.  Like most areas of enterprise learning, IT user adoption is moving away from the classical “push” approach towards more effective “pull” learning styles, including performance support and social learning.  If we decided, for the purity of social learning, to have end users separate into self-organized groups and begin discussing how to use a new piece of software that most of them have never seen before, it would be a complete waste of time.  But if we provided some direction from the beginning and offer participant guides, screen shots, and simulations for the groups to discuss and learn from as a collective, I believe it could be a huge success.

Some topics are so complex or so new that trainees cannot be relied upon to learn the material from each other right off the bat.  In these cases, why not leverage trainers to create a “head-start”?  You could even train subject matter experts to act as group mentors/facilitators.

It’s time we stop debating what social learning is and is not, and start brainstorming ways to leverage our social tendencies to change behavior.

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  Article Information
Author: jrccoach
Created: Apr 24 2012 at 08:56:18 AM
Updated: Apr 24 2012 at 09:02:04 AM
Category: B2B
Language: English