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Technology Enabled Learning Excellence Essentials January 2015

Social Learning resources. This in turn drives a higher level of productivity, because time isn’t being wasted searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack of information. There are a number of ways your community can do this. If your social platform allows users to recommend platform allows users to recommend or “like” certain assets, this can be very helpful in directing people to the most relevant content for their needs. 3. Make social part of your blended learning strategy For years now learning leaders have been creating programs that blend traditional, instructor-led learning experiences with online learn-ing. They have found that there are benefits to both approaches, and used in conjunction, they can reinforce each other’s value. With social learning, we now have another tool to make our existing instructor-led and e-learning initiatives better, more engaging, and with improved learning outcomes. The role of social learning in the new blended learning paradigm takes several forms. Some organizations have found that by enhancing the social experience of learning, they are likely to get better participation from employees, especially if programs have a significant element of self-directed learning. With the ability to reach out to peers involved in the same program, or get help on a particular topic, learners are more likely to stay engaged and complete their program of study. Another way that social learning can enhance the overall organiza-tional learning program is by supporting the knowledge transfer and actual behavioral change after the “formal” learning event has ended. Let’s face it, the only kind of learning that is valuable is the kind that gets applied in the workplace and contributes to improved business outcomes. And making the link between a learning event that may occur away from the job (sometimes literally away in a classroom or often just outside the flow of work) and the work itself can be difficult. If a learner encounters a problem, or simply does not receive reinforce-ment for the new behavior, the effects of the learning can be lost. Social systems can be used to encourage and recognize perfor-mance, and this can make the difference in whether the learn-ing actually transfers into a new and improved way of working. 4. Build the equity of experts One of the greatest values of social learning is that it helps to identify your internal experts. The line between learner and teacher is constantly blurring in today’s highly specialized workplace. Often the person with deep knowledge of a topic is sitting three cubicles away, but the difficulty in finding that person, or the exact nugget of information needed to solve a business problem, can be immense. This is especially true in today’s global, virtual, dispersed organiza-tions where job titles don’t tell the whole story about a person’s range of skills and expertise. With so many of our knowledge workers operating from remote or home offices, the informal transfer of knowledge is much more difficult. So the social learning platform becomes a sort of virtual water cooler: a place for colleagues to gather and exchange information. In this way social learning can contribute huge productivity benefits by helping to find that resident expert, whether that person is three cubicles away, or three time zones away. 5. Don’t overlook the importance of discovery Building on the idea that your organization is a network of experts, the issue quickly shifts to the ability to search for these experts and find them quickly. The knowledge captured within your system will be of little value if it can’t be pinpointed when a need arises. A social learning platform with the right set of features for capturing infor-mation and then discovering it later at the point of need is turning out to be a very effective way to achieve the goal of expert location. For this to work, the platform needs: • A way for experts to self-identify • A way for community members to recognize others for their expertise, • And a search function that identifies experts as a unique kind of learning resource. 6. Make sure your social initiatives have cross-generational appeal Organizations need to appeal to the entirety of the work force if they want to achieve maximum benefits. It’s not a stretch to think that Millennials will gravitate to social learning tools — they grew up with these technologies and experienced them as an integral part of their formal education during high school and college, not to mention that they are a huge part of their lives outside of work. But social learning tools should also appeal to your Gen-X, Boomers, and even Traditionalists. This is especially true because capturing tacit knowledge (Truth #7) is such an important part of the rationale for implementing social learning to begin with. 7. Capture tacit knowledge (before it walks out the door) The impending retirement of the baby boomers has long been a source of hand-wringing by managers, HR professionals, and execu-tives concerned about losing the decades of institutional knowledge that’s in the heads of these key employees. Often the most impor-tant pieces of information that can be captured have to do with seemingly mundane institutional know-how: processes, people and systems that are unique to the organization. Managers have long known that the ability to tap this organizational knowledge is one of the most important factors in the success of individual employees. 8. Make it simple and secure Consumer-oriented social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have set the bar high in terms of ease-of-use. Learners in organizations will expect a similarly intuitive experience from organizational social learning technologies. If your social learning tool mimics the basic ele-ments of already-accepted social systems, this will simplify and speed the process of getting people started. Also, keeping the initial requirements of setting-up a user profile to fairly basic elements will encourage users to jump in. They can always add more color to their profiles in the future. In Closing Time-strapped learning professionals don’t have the bandwidth to support a new program that requires hand-holding or a lot of encouragement. So your social learning initiative needs to provide obvious value, be easy to find and also be relevant to employees. This is also the beauty of building a social learning platform on top of existing learning and information resources — you’re leveraging existing content and behavior to drive adoption. So, are you ready to get started with social learning? There is no time like the present. The sooner you begin the more you will learn and the greater the benefit to your organization. TEL Pam Boiros currently serves as the Vice President of Corporate Marketing, a role that covers events, demand generation, branding, and overall company messaging and communication, at Skillsoft. Visit www.skillsoft.com Connect Pam Boiros Technology Enabled Learning excellence presented by HR.com | 01.2015 Submit your Articles 23


Technology Enabled Learning Excellence Essentials January 2015
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