Organizations adding social media as an internal training and communication tool often do so to duplicate the success of the marketing department, leverage unused features in existing technology, follow an industry trend, or appeal to younger workers. However, successful social learning implementations require activities grounded in strategy and a way to measure success. On October 27, I facilitated a Learning Views webinar that explored the strategies that can drive a social learning initiative. Feel free to view the recording of the Grounding Social Learning While Still Allowing It To Fly webinar. We also discussed implementation and measurement considerations based on the review of case studies.
The 70-20-10 rule, millennials’ inherent use of social media, statistics about the percentage of learning that is informal, and trends in social learning use among competitors lead many organizations in the direction of a social learning initiative. But, like many solutions in search of a problem, strategy is needed to drive social learning implementations versus a perceived need or a knee-jerk reaction. We explored several strategy considerations in the webinar.
Blogs, discussion forums, and videos with comments are examples of content creation that can extend learning events/solutions, expand learning to include comments and insights from learners, and provide increased communication to reduce misconceptions and inaccurate information in a quick, communal format. Distributing content creation among Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), blended learning, and community discussion beyond the training event are strategy driven social learning initiatives around content creation. Increased volume of and access to content, increased learner preparation for training and increased transfer of training to the job are potential measurement items for content creation with social learning.
Content curation can support social learning by helping to manage all of the information that’s available to employees and expanding exponentially. Curation is a way to organize content in the organization, tag it, and evaluate it as a community. Curation can support more efficient social learning in the organization, and tagging and evaluating content can be a learning mechanism itself. Organizing resources, highlighting the most useful resources, establishing a common language, and increasing the ease of accessing resources are strategy driven social learning activities around content curation. Increased search efficiency and more efficient content management are potential measurement items for content curation.
Email is the primary communication method in organizations today. But, how efficient is it? Social media communication as another communication method can lead to more efficient and effective communication, including community conversation, archiving, and identification of trends and learning needs. Increasing the efficiency of communication, reducing meetings, reducing the time to knowledge, and expanding communication reach are strategy driven social learning initiatives around communication that can all be measured.
What does the person in the cube next to you know? How about the coworker across from you in the meeting? Who do you turn to when you have a question about [insert any topic]? Social media can support learning in the organization by connecting us to experts and mentors that we may not know otherwise. There is hidden expertise in the organization. Social media profiles, profile search, and connection tools can efficiently connect us to support within our own organization versus going it alone or randomly searching for answers outside the organization. Connecting to experts, establishing mentorship, and building robust teams are strategy driven social learning initiatives around connections. Connections and mentoring activity can be measured to establish the impact of connections as part of social learning in the organization.
The company culture can be supported by social learning through content creation, content curation, and communication to recognize shared practices and establish a shared language. These activities also make sharing and communicating (in all forms) a part of the culture. Better communication and discussion around the company culture as well as establishing the culture and moving toward a collaborative culture are strategy driven social learning initiatives around culture. The impact on culture can be measured in employee engagement, employee satisfaction and decreased turnover rates.
Collaboration is happening in your organization already. But, can it be more efficient and more inclusive? As organizations become more dispersed, the ability for collaboration among matrixed and distributed team members becomes more difficult. Social learning can support dispersed and inclusive collaboration that ensures the right team members are collaborating in an efficient way. Increasing team efficiency, building robust teams and sharing collaborative efforts are strategy driven social learning initiatives around collaboration. Increased product/service development volume and efficiency, increased problem-solving capabilities and expanded inclusion are potential measurement items for collaboration with social learning.
Learning professionals at all levels have recognized the need to move beyond rote knowledge, single learning events, and an isolated experience as primary learning strategies. Constructivist approaches to learning design that support a learner-driven approach includes social interaction as a crucial component of the learning process. Through sharing what we think with others we can further develop our understanding and application of concepts. Social learning can enhance the transfer of training to workplace performance through peer sharing, discussion, collaboration and critique. Social learning can also enhance memory through expanded and repeated exposure to new concepts, in context.
Stay tuned for Andy’s next blog post coming next week which will provide case studies and participant contributions from the Social Learning webinar.