As Learning Technologies Professionals, we all believe in Social Networking; our big problem is how to get others to believe it too! I'm looking forward to chairing the 2 sessions (T3S4 and 5) on THU on this subject; but what are your thoughts?

What are your top tips and tricks to ensure that the next time you use it it won't fall flat on its face?

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Hi Alan,

I wrote about this last year in a blog post entitled: Getting started with social software for learning.

Helping people to gain confidence with social learning is the basically the same as helping them to gain confidence to contribute within a conference setting. Encourage them in. Ask them questions. Be interested in their opinions. Encourage their contributions.

It's not something that can be done in a short space of time. Developing the confidence to contribute can take weeks, not days.

Gilly Salmon's 5 stage model for emoderating is absolutely correct. You have to ensure people are motivated and minimise any access problems before you can even think about asking them to contribute.


Thanks for this Mark - I really loved that post of yours. A couple of months ago, I put some of my thoughts into a blogpost titled - Making Enterprise 2.0 succeed - little things that help.

My key thought however resonates one of yours - 'it's really about syndication'. The place where most enterprise 2.0 installations fail is when we start competing with the web. Instead, we should be looking at harnessing people's wisdom from the public internet and aggregating it to create collective intelligence.

At ThoughtWorks, we're doing this by aggregating people's 'lifestream' (all their public social media intake) and their 'workstream' (all the work they're doing professionally for the company). We're looking at interesting ways of contextualising and visualising this information so people can keep learning from each other on a continuous basis.
Hi Alan
I would agree with Mark, from a Learning and Development perspective --you need to impact the Corporate Culture (which is the result of what Mark wrote below - with facilitation). You need the culture to be a learning culture versus a knowing culture (this latter culture places value in employees keeping information tight versus sharing it).

My thoughts would be to:
- Embrace (the technology, social media, concept of social learning)
- Engage (dont just market its usage- but create context around the content provide to illicit engagement - as Mark writes -"encourage contributions") and lastly but most importantly
- Embed (embed the social learning in the employees daily workflow..if successful, social learning should be seamless - part of what they need to get their job done).

Couldn't agree more with the importance on culture. My background is actually in anthropology so the focus on culture is second nature to me. I find that too often we'll implement an enterprise-wide system that costs tons of money w/out a thought to how the culture will react or how to prepare that culture for the system.
FYI - i have been using an online push-pin board here to collect thoughts and resources related to this topic. Feel free to add some notes! Also lots of great resources.
We have lots of good examples of how social networking can be used for learning. Here's one which I"m going to mention on Thursday: Cisco just revamped their global channel training program (85% of Cisco's revenues comes from channels), and the program is all delivered through virtual classroom and manager-led coaching exercises, supplemented with a wide variety of assignments and collaborative work led by the corporate training team. In Cisco there is a tremendous culture of online learning. By forcing the sales channel to complete assignments on a timely basis, and supporting the collaborative environment centrally with local managers as leaders, they managed to rollout a global 2-week program and save hundreds of millions of dollars in travel - with tens of thousands of conversations to aid in the process. I'll tell you more next week!
Hi Josh,

I think you've hit the nail on the head here!

"... manager-led coaching ..."

"... local managers as leaders ..."

Getting the managers involved right at the centre of learning and development activity is essential. In my experience, most (not all) people would rather not contribute to work-based social environments, whereas they will happily contribute to things outside of work. The reason? Motivation. The "what's in it for me?" attitude.

With the manager acting as a motivating force; being aware of what's going on with the individual and of their particular performance issues, and knowing how best to motivate that individual to contribute, you're much more likely to get collaborative knowledge sharing and learning taking place.

Without the manager on board, then you may as well give up now.

Be careful with that "s" word - it can be "a sign that we’re going to use these tools to waste time, to goof off, to plan happy hour, to do all these social activities". See
I heard Andy talk at DevLearn this past year and I think it was probably the same pitch he describes in the blog post. I think he is onto something although I think his other points are equally if not more powerful and cautionary. I also do a lot with regard to 'game-based learning.' There is another four-letter word (Game) that you must exercise caution in over-using. I do note though that what I'd like not to do is create additional empty buzz phrases. that kind of cloud the water.

Alan - I don't know that we have to give up using "social" just yet. Andy's caution is on "overuse" I think the way we get around all of these semantic landmines is by being careful to explain first and fully the capabilities that we are talking about: collaboration, speed to market, performance support, mentoring, knowledge sharing - these are the important dynamics.
The word social can also be useful.

Social learning is not not (to use McAfee's term) about being social - ie concerned with relationships.

If we don't use the term (introduced carefully), we restrict ourselves from being able to gain some of the possible benefits of the technologies / approaches.

I knew I forgot one thing...I think one of the common fears is what you voice above - that they'll be used to waste time. My experience however has been that people who are time-wasters would have found some way to waste time 50 years ago and that these tools don't turn people into time-wasters but do provide lots of tools to save time and build community that we might not have access to. :-)
Thanks for this input.... my feeling is that there's a very narrow line to tread between doing too little and doing too much! Which simply highlights the need for selectivity and prioritisation in the choice of nudges!

But I am concerned about Peter's post - if we can't call it social what should we call it?



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