I attended a free transatlantic webinar featuring members of the Internet Time Alliance – Clark Quinn, Charles Jennings, Jay Cross Harold Jarche and Jane Hart. They had invited questions beforehand, and this is a short summary of the points that came up in the discussion. I think the presentation benefitted from the pressure to address each of these questions. The leaders 'rotated', addressing each question in pairs, with the others chipping in occasionally. That made the overall presentation brisk and to the point. The theme was that social learning is less about learning and more about working in a 'smarter' way.
What's 'Working Smarter' and why is it important?
- it's about conversation, not packaged information
- it's to enable us to cope with the avalance of information
- because our current company practices are from the pre-information age
- as routine work gets automated and outsourced, we're left with exception handling, complex work and creative work. Trad TNA and training aren't geared for these non-repeatable operations
- it's about augmenting our brains with technology
Examples of using social learning to support formal learning
- Jane Hart – managers' learning community in a South African power station company
- returning the focus of training to apprenticeships, away from the classroom
How do you motivate busy people to do social learning when their schedule's full already?
- demonstrate that it's easier, cheaper and more flexible than the alternatives
- show that it saves time and effort. Google demonstrates that people take the line of least resistance to find what they need
- show that it's more fun
How do you sell the idea of social learning to a sceptical manager?
- show the benefits to his/her own practice, or at least to yours
- don't call it 'learning' or 'social' or 'networking' – call it effective collaboration
What's the role of an L&D specialist in Working Smarter?
- 'network weaver'
- removing barriers
- NOT checking technical correctness – examples of Wikipedia and Dare2Share show self correction works
- facilitator of communities – some will need input and help
- a minor part will still be developing content and courses but this can be outsourced if in conflict
What part will mobile learning play in this?
- four functions of mobile device – get content, compute (make us smarter), capture (photo, mic, video, sensor), communicate
- not just a delivery platform for more elearning
- connecting with your network. If networks inhibited by corporate restrictions people will use their mobiles
- slow learning – a continuing relationship with the learner, not event-based
- performance support should be training's top priority
- predicted that in 2-3 years, majority of internet access will be from mobile devices
- Google now design primarily for mobile before desktop
What are the ingredients of a successful community of practice?
- you need a shared purpose and eagerness to learn from each other
- so you can't mandate a C of P
- it's about nurturing, more like gardening
- start to embed a collaborative culture (this term appeals to senior managers)
- 'You know you're in one when it changes your practice'
How do you create a groundswell for informal learning without alienating management?
- it has to be 'seeded, fed and watered'
- it has to be both bottom up and top down – senior champions. BBC and Reuters had support of top people willing to blog
How do you measure the impact of social learning?
- get out of the learning mindset into a business mindset
- business outcomes, changes in behaviour, business metrics
- push-button reporting (like LMS) won't work. LMS doesn't measure business performance
- talk to people – even a sample of 24 people is enough
- see McKinsey report on speed of access to knowledge. 'Knowledge workers spend 50% of their time doing things they don't want to do – dealiing with email, searching for information, making appointments'
What's the most important thing you can do to move the Working Smarter agenda on?
- demonstrate the value to yourself first – social learning is something you do
- immerse yourself in it
- don't assume people have the skills or motivation to share – they need nurtured and 'safety' has to be created if it isn't there
- find seniors who 'get it' and bind them in closely as examplars not just endorsers
- measure business results in thes same way you'd measure engagement or sales
- don't focus on learning, focus on work.