Surprisingly, social learning it is not a new thing — as social media is not, since it transfers pre-existent social practices to virtual environments. However, it seems that eLearning is starting to explore the measurable benefits of word of mouth and spontaneous collaboration, bringing new layers to training and eLearning projects.
Markku Pelkonen, chairman of the board at Datafisher, has spoken about the topic right after his visit to Learning Technologies 2013 conference, in London.
It’s common that buzzwords come and go. It seems now that the word is social learning. Is this really a new way of learning? How do you think this can be useful for training solutions?
The social aspect has been a key element of learning solutions for ages – but just now the technological enablers, new platforms and the hype has brought it to everyone’s attention. Learning is always a social process but e-learning providers haven’t been utilizing it much. As a baseline I can say that designing social learning is easy – the most difficult part is actually make the cultural change and drive relevance and real collaboration in the workplace.
A key question for companies is on efficiency. Can social learning help on that? How to speed up the process and make knowledge transfer visible?
Each organization has isolated pockets (of people) who a) have the right information and know-how b) aren’t easy to get access to. Social collaboration tools such as the Datafisher Collab, Saba People Cloud or Yammer can be used to make organizational know-how and hidden expertise more accessible and transparent. Access to real expertise and people is the key.
Is there an improve in awareness and understanding of corporate messages?
People hear a lot of corporate messages at work. The problem with traditional communication is how people perceive and understand the key messages. Social enables a more agile approach with built-in, fast feedback from wide audience. Measuring “Word of mouth” and “willingness to share” becomes easier. Social can be used to drive real brand identity to everyday behaviors. Walking the talk is a key element of social.
And what about social media in light of eLearning?
Social media gives learning content relevance and meaning. As an example I would like to share a success case. We started by sharing a wide library of support content to 300 Product Managers and Sales Managers to promote product related knowledge. Everyone was given a task to rate the content “most important to them personally”. By analyzing how people rated the content with simple tagging (relevant to me – not relevant to me) and overall usefulness we were able to restructure the whole product support and training portfolio from “shoot and kill anything that moves”-approach to a more need-based focus. Relevance to me is the key.
Are there any successful features of social media that have already been applied by Datafisher in learning projects? How are these features important?
Training, especially e-learning has gotten a lot of criticism in the past years. The traditional use of LMSs (learning management system) and your everyday, business driven training needs don’t always match. Virtual training platforms are also often too isolated from the everyday workflows. Mobility on the other hand brings relevance and context! As we all know training is only relevant if it is used in the right context. What else do you need than a mobile device (smartphone, tablet etc.) and the right content and the right people to ask or collaborate with? Need I say more? : )
When we talk about social, it also means visibility. Is it a concern that users will feel embarrassed to ask things? What can be done to prevent that?
Behaviors change slowly and utilizing more social methods for formal training and learning also means a big cultural change. I wouldn’t worry that much about being embarrassed. Embarrassment is a good feeling from time to time and some people will always feel awkward when in need of support. In some companies answering questions, social support and solving issues have also been taken into performance scorecards as KPIs.
With social (and maybe mobile), LMS platforms seem to be outdated. Can you explore a bit the topic? In what ways can LMS adapt to survive the tech-race in eLearning and training?
The founding idea and use for an LMS was to collect training scores and manage end user interaction with a very rigid application model. It served its purpose for many years helping to store simple and meaningless training related information and details.
Instead of asking who has completed a training, we need to ask more social questions to the next systems and tools. Let me ask you a simple question: which scenario would you rather see in your LMS-reports?
Scenario Old-LMS: 200 people have completed the training with a passing score of 80%. Out of the target group (N=200) over 25% perceived the training as “not relevant to me”.
Scenario LMS 2013: 200 people have asked 450 relevant questions regarding the training topic and over 30 of these questions have been commented and discussed by over 45% of the target group (N=200). The most important knowledge gaps regarding the training topic have been identified and informal collaboration groups have been automatically been created until the issues have been resolved. The training module was also shared to an extended group of employees as “preferred content” totalling over 400. What do you think?