Learning on the Edge: 5 Growing Trends That Are Driving Learning and Development Now

Trend # 2: Social Learning: Leveraging Social Media for the Way We Work Today

Yesterday, it was the chance meeting at the “water cooler” that gave employees the opportunity to exchange information and perhaps even problem solve, should a new “situation” occur. Today, technology and changing demographics have converged to present a “supercharged water cooler” solution for learning in a dynamic, often global workplace.

The pace of organizational change today creates a significant challenge for classroom training, elearning, and other “formal” learning platforms. A rapidly changing environment demands continuous, self- directed learning where individuals can share, create, and collaborate with others in building knowledge-what I need to know and when I need to know it. This is social learning. New technology-social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, or their corporate versions combined with mobile access via smart phones, iPads, and the like have provided the enabling platform for social learning. With changing demographics, the numbers of users of social media, games, and wikis continue to increase in the workplace. How are organizations leveraging these trends? Many are incorporating social learning into their learning solutions strategy.

While there are many examples of failed efforts to employ social media as a medium for learning, the trend forward is unmistakable. What lessons can we learn from social learning pioneers?

The launch: Begin with a “soft” launch, inviting a few early adapters who will advocate for use of the social media and create a buzz to draw in others. The need to solve a specific problem creates a compelling reason to engage, share information, and collaborate on a solution.

Communication: Engage employees by providing important, need-to-know information which cannot be found elsewhere in the organization. Offer training on the use of the social media tools or tools chosen. And make sure that the selected tools are easier and more convenient to use than what is already provided by the organization.

Building engagement: Create incentives for use. Introduce the tools to new employees at the time they are hired. Create communities for learning.

Does your organization have a social learning strategy? How can your workplace keep learning on pace with changes in products, market demands, internal processes and organization, and regulations, to name a few?

Co-authored with Laura Butcher, Owner and President, The Learning Point (www.thelearningpoint.com)