The New Social Learning Home Page
Chapter Summaries


Workplace learning is a competitive advantage for every company. People need to learn fast, as part of the ebb and flow of their jobs, not just on the rare occasion they are in a class. Senior leaders urgently want to provide their people with something vibrant, effective, and cutting edge to support their nonstop learning—something that will ensure that competitive edge.

The New Social Learning reframes social media from a marketing strategy to a strategy that encourages knowledge transfer and connects people in a way consistent with how we naturally interact. At its most basic level, social learning can result in people becoming more informed, gaining a wider perspective, and being able to make better decisions by engaging with others. It acknowledges that learning happens with and through other people, as a matter of participating in a community, not just by acquiring knowledge.

The convergence of three key trends: 1) Expanding opportunities for personal connection, 2) Emerging expectations from shifting workforce demographics, and 3) Increasing reach of customized technology—accelerates the need for social learning. Although some of these trends have been observable for decades, their influence compounds.

As organizations search for ways to increase profits, save money, and compete, lighter and friendlier tools have become available to help them excel. Social learning is a fundamental shift in how people work—leveraging how we have always worked, but now with new tools to accelerate and broaden individual and organizational reach.

Responding to Critics:

Some of the most common concerns with regard to social learning include lacking an embrace of social media within the organization, a concern about inappropriate or incorrect information being posted, that learning socially is not training, and that it can’t be governed or measured. Here are some tips on how to respond to critics.

With no plans to use social media, organizations often ease into it. Social media tools may work their way into an organization through an enterprise tool that can be implemented for free. Employees may be encouraged to comment on company blogs or to blog on their own. Perhaps an employee directory goes online and then someone creates a wiki. Beginning to use social media is a process of adapting and adopting. Begin where you are and build where it suits your culture and environment.

Rather than start with a large, heavy-handed policy condemning the use of social media, put in place simple rules stating when people should use which tool to communicate, create, or share specific types of information. And, specify which data and content are appropriate for what use—especially use within the company. Foster good practices and educated decision making for a longer-term solution.

Taking It to the Next Level:

The new social learning fosters an environment where people readily and easily pick up new knowledge and skills as the world shifts around them, meeting the demands of a constantly changing mobile world.

The new social learning transcends social media, training, or workplace learning practices of the past because it offers:

  • more information
  • more dissemination points
  • an open approach to a wide network of communicators and collaborators who can help work flow.