astd, Learning Technologies, PLN, Professional Development, Social Media, Training

How Does Your Social Learning Garden Grow?

It is important to consider how your organization uses the social web for learning professionals. The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) recently published INFOLINE: Social Learning for Learning Professionals initiated a review of social media engagement beyond knowledge workers (educators). Social learning is not competing with formal education, training, or employee development; instead it is a space to connect professionals and share ideas. Although social media learning is often compared to informal or e-learning, it distinguishes itself as learners search content, develop interpersonal engagements, and form shared communities of practice. 

The key Social Learning Technologies include:

  • Online Communities – personal learning networks & virtual learning environments
  • Media Sharing – sharing & tagging videos, images, photos and more!
  • Microsharing – 140 characters to highlight news, share trends, ask questions & link URLs
  • Collaboration Tools – wikis, shared documents & cloud computing platforms
  • Immersive Environments – virtual worlds, gaming, augmented reality & simulations
  • Social Learning at Events – IRL meetings to connect offline for shared interests & goals

More professionals value social media tools to enhance communication, improve knowledge sharing, find resources and connect to a broader learning network. Many social resources create a space to solve problems, mentor employees, scaffold training initiatives and support effective decision-making. Organizations that support social learning may not see traditional return-on-investment (ROI); however they do have the potential to enhance the following items in its organizational culture:

  • retaining institutional knowledge
  • attracting and retaining professionals
  • succession planning
  • connecting dispersed employees
  • collaboration to solve problems
  • integrated & holistic approach for staff development
Social learning groups are sometimes organic, and others are intentionally created with specific learning goals. Any organization interested utilizing social media in a training and development program might want to consider a few guidelines before proposing to the idea the senior leaders:
  1. Establish a purpose.
  2. Encourage participation.
  3. Encourage respectful communication.
  4. Identify a gardener.
  5. Outline limitations.
  6. Include troubleshooting information.
Bingham, T. (2011, January). INFOLINE: Social Learning for Learning Professionals. ASTD Press, 1101, 1-16.

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