Graduating in social learning

by | Oct 3, 2017

Last week, I graduated in person with my fellow students. This was the first time I was meeting them all, including ones I worked tirelessly over projects with. To say we shared some vulnerable moments, despite never meeting each other, is an understatement! So it was lovely to finally meet these people face-to-face and celebrate the milestone together.

My MBA was delivered completely online. Not a new concept in education, but the experience I had with the rules of engagement whilst working remotely definitely helped me along the path. Having already shared and created systems for communication, collaboration and content sharing in my own business, this allowed for a much easier transition for group projects, assessments and discussion forums on the provided online portals.

Reflecting on my flight back home, I considered some of these “practices” and started to look at how this was changing the face of learning for both study and the workplace. I thought about the fact that sometimes, I felt I wasn’t “learning” because it was done in such a way that all my communication was done “socially”. Group chats on Whats App, Brainstorming sessions on Slack, Facebook Groups for projects. Is this what the future of learning looks like?

Social Learning

What Ducere Business School and the University of Canberra did, was not actually come up with a fantastic curriculum (haha, stay with me advocates). Instead, they found ways to connect leading experts to students, create discussions and provide real-time resources so that us students could self direct our own learning.

The people of an organisation and their collective talent drive the success. What digital learning provides are opportunities to stay relevant, build skills and retain great people. What social learning provides is the means in which they acquire knowledge as well as how they apply it to their work.

There is a lot of research that demonstrates that up to 80% is informal learning and that social learning now appears to be positioned as a major component of the future of workplace education. Is this what the future of learning looks like and if so, how do I influence this in my organisation? I found this diagram that helped me framework how we can better provide social learning to our team.

Here are ways on how social learning can benefit you:

  • Enable a social platform. Not an entirely new concept as many businesses have intranets and platforms that mirror social platforms like Facebook. But enabling a social platform where the sharing of information, questions and answers is fundamental to getting the learning right and is not what all businesses do. It creates a natural centralisation for informal and community-based education.
  • Provide easy to use on-boarding and introductions to new tools and systems. How easy it is to navigate a system, is always a critical success factor to the social platform. Additionally, nothing is more frustrating than asking for help and not getting a timely response either. So if there are self-help options that allows for the user to empower themselves is always a plus.
  • Reduce friction in the learning process and digital tools. Make sure your social learning environment is mobile-ready, easy-to-use and easy to create content with. To start off and encourage some use, start with topics that learners care most about and therefore, gather/interact on. Effective search tools is critical as well to find what they need.
  • Provide examples to trigger participation and co-creation. There needs to be some initial content to ensure there is enough usefulness from the outset to achieve effective adoption by the workforce. This requires an investment in content production e.g. short training videos, articles and blog posts. Students will teach themselves if they find it enjoyable.

It is important to have a talent management strategy that incorporates and invests into digital and social learning needs, in order to sustain and remain competitive. Working in the talent and culture space, it will be interesting to see how this evolves in the near future.

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