Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2011 - (Page 15)

LEARNING 2020 | LISA BODELL JUST BECAUSE IT’S SOCIAL DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOOD SOCIAL LEARNING: FOCUS ON COLLABORATION ocial learning—especially the type enabled by web-based collaboration tools—is attracting a lot of attention lately. Hot new start-ups offer enterprise-wide systems, and some big names are signing on. Do these programs truly present new capabilities for better knowledge transfer, or are they just the latest trend sweeping the L&D landscape? It’s easy to understand the appeal. Social networking tools offer cost savings compared to conventional training (less travel, fewer outside trainers), which helps strengthen the business case for learning. Another benefit is that trendy technologies may further engage younger workers. The most compelling argument in favor of such tools, however, is the ability to unlock the wealth of knowledge stored within the minds of existing employees. For example, think about someone starting a new job. How much useful knowledge does she absorb from the orientation slideshow with the official HR stamp on it? Doesn’t she perhaps learn more from her new colleagues, with their varied experiences and “insider” knowledge about the way things really work? People are constantly learning from others around them, but only recently have organizations begun to understand the implications and attempt to systemize it. In the past, many have relied on external trainers by default. But they can’t possibly possess the same level of intimate knowledge as an employee. Outside perspective is valuable in its own right; but we must stop overlooking the rich wells of knowledge that exist inside our organizations. The ability to share expertise and troubleshoot S problems as they arise is incredibly valuable. This is social learning at its best. If something is not working, it’s far more efficient to ask a colleague for guidance than to navigate a convoluted “FAQ” page, or worse, a help line. But how do you keep these spontaneous transfers from becoming too interruptive? The answer lies in smart structures designed to facilitate these interactions. In addition to face-toface collaboration, a whole host of technologies have emerged to manage knowledge transfer. Employee wikis are one example. Yammer, an internal social network that reimagines the communal “water cooler” for the digital age, gives employees a place to gather, share what they’re working on, and provide live updates. Mindflash takes things a bit further toward the “training” aspect, letting anyone create a web-based course in minutes from existing materials. It’s just right for quick knowledge transfer between employees—instead of centralized training coming from an L&D department. With all of these options available for facilitating knowledge transfer, it’s important to remember that just because it’s social doesn’t mean it’s good. Be careful not to get swept up in the “trendiness” of these programs. The true value of social learning lies in the potential for collaboration—not just sharing knowledge. Lisa Bodell is the founder and CEO of futurethink, a globally recognized innovation research and training firm. E-mail Lisa. 15 TrainingIndustry Quarterly, Summer 2011 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2011

Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2011
The Formula for Performance
Table of Contents
Ad Index
Training for Transformation
Working Smarter: New Ways of Learning
Classroom Training: 7 Scary Problems
Technical Training: Where Does it Belong?
Social Learning: Focus on Collaboration
Performance Management: Focus on People…and Profit
Adding Social Media Tools to Learning Portfolios: 10 Questions to Consider
Bridging the Gap: Training and Business Results
Managing Knowledge in High Performance Organizations
Web 3.0: Transforming Learning
The Soft Touch

Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2011