Social learning: everybody’s doing it?


The term ‘social learning’ has been knocking around for a quite a while – but what do we really know about what’s going on?

Why are we so desperate to label and harness what in essence is naturally occurring? After all, learning from sharing and practicing has been the foundation stone of learning since time began.  We weren’t born with the knowledge of how to make fire.

So why does the L&D community get so hot under the collar about ‘social learning’? We’re on a mission to find out! We want to get to the bottom of what actually happens in workplaces across the country under the name of ‘social learning’.

Pursuing the quest for the ‘20’

In an almost Pokemon-like way, organisations have become pretty animated about achieving the mythical  70:20:10. There’s little surprise, therefore, that as L&D have ‘discovered’ there’s value in informal learning, there’s a positive correlation in the need to crack the social learning nut and include it within their L&D strategies and plans. As a result the market has reacted with a proliferation of technological solutions to help - curation tools, discussion tools, apps and add-ons.  But do they work? What really creates free-flowing discussion, sharing and debate among like-minded colleagues?  When it does happen, is it because or despite of the plethora of tools now available to facilitate it?

Learning by any other name…

As our learning consultant Krista Woodley asked in this blog post a while ago, what’s in a name? The term ‘social’ is probably over-used to make things better. And not just in L&D – social media, after all, is just media nowadays. Even a social club is essentially just a club, isn’t it?

Could it be the case that L&D is just using the word ‘social’ as another way to try and engage the potentially disengaged in learning? Or even more cynically using more informal, naturally occurring learning as a way of saving time and budget that would normally be spent on formal training?

In Krista’s article she highlighted research by Deloitte that shows 3 out of 10 L&D departments have no plans to implement social media, yet 96% of L&D leaders are looking to technology to help increase the sharing of good practice [1]. So they’re making the right moves to allow employees to learn socially, but perhaps not recognising this as a social learning strategy.

Join us in our mission

We want to get to the bottom of this. Who’s using social learning really well at the moment and how are they doing it? What does a social learning strategy really look like for L&D? How can we capitalise on what’s happening naturally across the business rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with social tools nobody will use?

So we’re conducting some research to get a better understanding. And we’re starting with a short questionnaire to get an idea of what social learning is already in place – regardless of whether it’s under the banner of a formal strategy.

We’d be grateful if you could complete this questionnaire yourself – and please share it as widely as possible through your organisation and your own professional networks. It’s confidential and will take you around 10 minutes.

Watch this space later in the year to see our results and our insights about how social learning can work best.

TAKE PART IN OUR RESEARCH

 

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[1] Deloitte's 'Social Software for Business'