There are different perspectives on what social learning (or what I tend to call agile learning) is, and at the risk of adding more confusion or uncertainty to the mix, I thought I would stir in my own flavoring.
The domain of social or agile learning concerns the:
· Use of new media and collaborative technologies
· To create and leverage knowledge exchange communities
· For accelerating operational and transformational learning in distributed individuals and groups
Let me deconstruct this a little.
Technology: The new media provide ever expansive digital spaces for accessing, co-creating, and sharing of ideas, knowledge, and know-how. We have always learned from one another through talking, listening, observing, and imitating; now we have technologies like public and private social networks, microblogging, podcasting, videocasting, photosharing, social bookmarking, wikis and RSS to exponentially increase our ability to learn together.
Knowledge: I use ‘knowledge’ in a very broad sense to include: data, facts, information, expertise, theories, concepts, models, stories, feelings, visuals, blogs, experiences, principles, processes, procedures, know-how, feedback, and insights – anything that increases the capacity of someone to perform better.
Learning: Rather than the one-way transmission of expert content to a learner (the “I teach, you learn model”), social learning facilitates non-linear engagement with distributed knowledge. It enables higher levels of self-managed learning with increased relevance to real-time issues. Sometimes the learning will be specific to an individual learner and at other times to a wider group. The learning might be of an operational nature (e.g., changes in how to perform a task more efficiently) or transformational (e.g., changes in values, beliefs, mindsets, and worldviews).
· To make the business case to senior executives, you might want to change the name social learning to, for example, agile learning or rapid learning
· Get real top-down organizational support & commitment beyond the short-term
· Define the synergistic roles of HR, Learning & Development and IT early
· Think open learning communities as an organizational principle – you need a sense order and serendipity/cross-pollination
· Identify champions and role models for seeding and nurturing social learning (to create critical mass)
· Integrate social learning with existing technologies; keep access and participation simple, non-burdensome, and mobile-friendly
· Leverage existing communities of practice and collaborations for sandbox experimentation
· Try starting with formal learning (push learning) on social learning technologies, and then blend in the more informal (pull learning) elements later
· Create and communicate simple rules of engagement