The “Social” Behind Social Learning

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 07.23.09

Social Networking
Currently there is a stream of interest and activity about social learning—with much of the focus on the power of social learning to drive innovation in the enterprise by accessing a host of new technologies, tools and social software.

But the engine behind using social media for corporate learning requires the participation of people to fuel it. So social learning starts with building and nurturing a community of engaged users, and of course part of the launch process is to identify the right social technologies to support this. Think here of Twitter. The success of Twitter rests largely with folks like you and me who keep Twitter humming along with new content, ideas and applications. This phenomenon has been referred to as “open innovation,” where end users provide new knowledge and content.

As companies plan to expand the focus of learning to be “social,” in addition to examining the range of social tools and social technologies, ask yourself: what has to change inside the learning department? Here are three questions to consider:

  1. What new roles need to be developed inside the learning & human resources department? What is the focus of these roles? Will there be someone assigned to “feed” new content to kick off the initiative?
  2. What new guidelines and policies need to be put into place so everyone is clear about how to participate and the general rules for engaging in social media in the workplace? What needs to be addressed in these guidelines?
  3. What new metrics are put into place for encouraging participation? How will performance management be impacted? Will employees be clear about their responsibility to be contributors not just consumers of new knowledge?

These are just a few of the questions I see among companies that are seriously considering re-thinking their learning department.

Share additional questions and your insights with me either in the comments here, via email, or by following me on Twitter at

I will recap your thoughts in a future post!

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