Social play can be Social Learning

I have been asked a half-dozen times about my thoughts on Social Learning within corporations. At work we do use social tools such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger and YouTube for learning purposes.

When I ask about social learning in the work place, I normally get blank stares from potential clients, “Do you mean I should allow my employees play on Facebook at work?” This makes me wonder whether everyone is classifying social learning as social playing. I feel I need to educate our clients about what they are missing. This same scenario happened a few years back when “gamification” came into play. “Really, I can let my employees play Hangman at work?”

History tells us that gamification in learning increases the attention span and helps retain knowledge and process. There is not much of a difference in using social tools. Of course, when social learning was introduced we saw the same reactions. I have news for you: social learning is here to stay. Social learning, or learning from peers or from the community, is not new. There has been a considerable amount of research that focuses on social learning and how consciously and unconsciously we learn from one another. Most of our behavior is learned through observing others: one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this information serves as a call to action to create a new process.

We all have a natural tendency to want to connect with one another. This supports the case for social learning, but the social theories have also provided insights into the effectiveness of social learning. The importance of social learning has increased 210% over the last six or seven months, with the explosion of social networking. Research indicates a direct correlation to the discipline of knowledge-management. There has been a shifting focus towards dynamic knowledge creation and identifying sources and processes involved with learning. Social learning networks are enabling us with real-time solutions to complex problems, fostering innovation and co-creation of knowledge, by removing the constraints of space and allowing for self-paced learning at any given time.

Just yesterday I was telling a co-worker how I just got a new Kitchen Aid mixer. He knows that I have been baking like crazy, but I was having an issue with the mixer not mixing the right way. My first instinct was to go to You Tube, and sure enough my problem was solved a matter of 30 seconds with the use of a dime! (
So think of a process that you need to use, for example Excel: in 20 years I have never met someone who knows every formula of excel. I myself use You Tube or Face Book to find out a formula I need. This type of learning can speed up processes in the workplace, and help with self-paced learning. There is no intimidation or the burdening of another co/worker or manager. It is important to recognize that social learning is much more than social media. Social learning is at times confused with the conditions or the methods used for learning. Some aspects of social learning have been incorporated into organizational learning and organizations have started putting in place formal mechanisms to nurture this type of learning
Treat Social Media as a friend – not a time-wasting exercise. The good will outweigh the bad, Ideaon has provided many solutions to develop social learning in the work place, I have listed a few tips below:

1. Encourage employees – to make a mandatory contribution to content generation or learning exercise – let them blog or post twitter. Industry forums are a great way to share information
2. Segregate information bits into various silos for easy access and learning – for: management, technologies, trends, legislations – make your own groups
3. Find a way to share what you learn – See Point 1

Ideaon is more than an e-Learning custom-content development company. We are a custom e-Learning solutions company and we can provide you with our expertise and knowledge to help you gain a better ROI and engage employees with learning and knowledge, while providing solutions.

How do you approach Social Learning?

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