Idea Learning Group

"social-media" Posts

Attend March’s Collaborative Learning Network

IdeaLearning Group invites you to our monthly series, The Collaborative Learning NetworkEvery month, we curate the latest insights, best practices, and techniques around a different topic related to learning and development. Innovative professionals from the learning and development community are invited to gather, share insights, and collaborate—social learning at its best.

This Month’s Topic: Learning with Social Media

Social media isn’t just for keeping in touch with friends. It’s about connecting, sharing and collaborating. It’s also a powerful way to learn. Compared with traditional learning, how can social media enhance learning? With hundreds of ways to connect online, which resources do you use to help you learn, teach or share with others? Join our Collaborative Learning Network session on March 6 to share your social learning suggestions. We’ll compile a list of all our favorite resources and send it to all participants following the session. Jennie Thede from IdeaLearning Group will facilitate the free session.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM (PST)

Montgomery Park | Suite 103
2701 NW Vaughn St
Portland, OR 97210

Registration is free but is required. Please bring your own examples, stories, and insights to share!

Click here to register.

Reflections From DevLearn: Trends in Emerging Technologies

This is the first in a multi-part series of posts about what we learned at the annual DevLearn conference in Las Vegas this past week. I attended Koreen Olbrish’s vibrant early-morning discussion on the latest trends in emerging technologies. Here’s a recap.

DevLearn 2012 Trends in Emerging Technology

On Mobile Learning…

As with any type of learning content you’re developing, it’s important to ask: What are the goals/outcome expectations? What’s the business problem? If the goal is to access content or performance support tools, consider developing for a mobile site. Mobile apps allow people to learn within a particular context.

Keep in mind that if you’re developing mobile learning, every time changes are made to an app or a system you have to think through the various platforms: iPads, iPhones, Androids, etc. all have different development requirements.

Koreen also mentions that Rockmelt is a great browser to use for iPad.

On Social Media…

Organizations sometimes hire people in the learning industry and then treat them like they don’t trust them. Many organizations block social media access, but so many employees still access facebook, twitter, and other social media sites directly from their smartphones. In fact, 18% of facebook users only access facebook through their phones.

I learned a new phrase, “Subject matter networks,” which was coined by Mark Oehlert. It refers to the systems of experts we now have access to in our interconnected lives who can answer questions on specific topics. Accessing our network should be a daily exercise in learning—enhanced by social media.

Koreen recommends that learning and development professionals who don’t regularly use social media should still visit social media sites frequently. They should take on the role of anthropologists who observe other people and collect data about how learners are using data and interacting with others. She emphasizes that it’s important to understand the environment in which learners spend time in order to develop content that appeals to them.

On Bandwidth Issues…

Koreen predicts that in 10 years, bandwidth issues will no longer present problems for most users. She talks about quantum networking as a way to teleport data from one point to another, independent from 3G, 4G, etc. She predicts that physicists will figure this out before long.

On Learning Through “Apprenticeships…”

“As a world, we lost the apprenticeship model because it wasn’t scalable,” Koreen says. Now technology has reached a point where we can recreate this model through online experiences. The real proof is when people enter the real world and actually do the things they’ve learned about.

On Feedback and Learning…

Think about games compared with eLearning. The average amount of feedback in eLearning is every 15 to 20 minutes. In a game, it’s every few seconds; games are “designed as feedback machines.”

On Immersive Technology…

Immersive technology and design provide the chance to create experiences instead of just presenting content. The context-based practice is what is usually missing and where immersive learning kicks in—it could be storyline driven, or like “role-plays on steroids.”

Tools like FaceTime are great for observing behavior and providing immersive feedback.

My favorite quote during this session: “If you’re rolling out a game, it shouldn’t be ‘required.’ It should be fun. And you can’t force fun.”

The Rise of Social Learning at Work

A tidal wave of social learning is reshaping the way we experience new information. As businesses become more globalized, people are discovering more flexible, engaging ways to make connections with each other. We’re now able to cast a net into the ebbs and flows of relevant information that surrounds us. And the results are pretty amazing.

The Nature of Learning

Social learning builds a sense of community, creates standards or reference points, and offers alternative perspectives. It also generates support and encouragement within our networks.

The essence of social learning for businesses is that people collaborate and share to make sense of new ideas. In her excellent post on social learning on, Marcia Connor sums it up this way: “Social learning combines social media tools with a shift in the corporate culture, a shift that encourages ongoing knowledge transfer and connects people in ways that make learning a joy.” New technologies are making it possible to create vibrant working environments that are “enthusiastically supported, where your sense of wonder returns and creativity blossoms — where people thrive.”

Children seem to learn through social interaction quite naturally. In days past, workers regularly learned by doing, by finding mentors and observing their behaviors. Our learning hasn’t always been bound by rigid org charts and corporate seminars.

Why has the business world taken such a siloed approach to learning for so long? The explosive potential for social media has helped us improve the way we learn at work, beyond the org chart. Perhaps social media tools are letting us tap back into something fundamental to learning: a sense of curiosity and exploration.

The Tools of Social Learning

If learning is a journey, then online social learning tools allow us to leave a trail of breadcrumbs—without geographical restrictions. Here are some common tools many of us already use every day to learn and share new information:

  •  Wikipedia: A free content encyclopedia that anyone can edit, Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites in the world. It attracts more than 400 million visitors a month and a total of 1.2 million contributors. This is made possible by a software platform that simplifies collaboration.
  • Twitter: People flock to twitter because it allows them to connect, communicate, share, and collaborate with people all over the world, as well as find the most current topics of interest. These topics can be organized using hash tags (#) for easy searchability.
  • Company Blogs: External blogs let employees contribute posts and invite comments from visitors. They help build a company’s brand and allow a free-flowing exchange of new ideas.
  • Internal Wikis: These sites let employees share knowledge within an organization, access common files like job descriptions, style guides, policies and procedures, and browse resources created by company subject matter experts.

 Social Learning Strategies at Work

Many of us are more than knee-deep in social media through sites like facebook, twitter, and pinterest. Then when we go to work, it’s as if we’re reverting back to how we used to communicate a decade ago. With email as the standard mode of communication at work, it’s difficult to openly communicate and collaborate on projects.

Embrace social learning or be left behind, says journalist Debra Donston-Miller. Users are tired of just searching for information online; now they want to network. It’s the next big step in social communication.

The opportunity for growth in the social business industry is vast. One company that has claimed a big stake in this space is Jive Software. The company’s enterprise-wide social platform leverages the social graph to offers people better ways to collaborate and communicate at work without having to resort to outdated modes of communication like email. Hundreds of big-name companies have adopted the technology with incredible results.

You don’t always need fancy tools for social learning to take place. For example, one of our clients needed a leadership program and a way for participants to practice applying their knowledge outside the classroom. We helped create a “lunch buddies” program to pair different individuals together for lunch following every training session over a nine-week period. They also participated in monthly cohort meetings as an opportunity to review and practice what they learned together. is another company widely recognized for innovative uses of social strategies that support its customer service and culture. The company’s CEO says that he views social media use as more of a communication channel than a marketing channel. Zappos encourages positive and negative feedback exchanges from customers and employees to align with the core values of openness and honestly. The company offers twitter training to employees, and more than 400 have active accounts. They post YouTube videos and manage several corporate blogs focused on culture and customer service.

Professionals are also using social learning strategies to build their own personal learning networks (PLN) to keep up to date on topics of interest. Learning expert Jane Bozarth recommends using social networking to find people you want to know, participate in interesting conversations, and expand your usual horizons. By creating your own PLN, you can create your own professional brand and build a community of those who share—or even oppose—your interests.

One obvious downside to these abundant inlets for social learning is information overload. It’s something we’re all learning to manage as we juggle our many devices, online accounts. As we become more social online, we must develop stronger filters to weed through the distractions and irrelevant details.

Which social learning strategies do you use at work?

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