Tag Archives: learning

Next Generation Learning @ Work

A podcast about the BT Dare2Share social learning project.

next generation learning @ work


Social Learning Primer

I created this 16 minute social learning primer (podcast) to address some of the frequently asked questions and concerns about social learning, and to share some of my insights and suggestions gained from my experience helping client organizations with their social learning agendas.

I hope you find this primer useful.  Please feel free to comment and provide feedback.

Click on image to see primer

How Healthy Are Your Learning Communities….Really?

Organizations are either actively considering or have recently started deploying enterprise social media to enable social learning.  Such companies have come to realize that key to their success are productive and vibrant learning communities.

How healthy are your learning communities……really?  Old ways of measuring the productivity and success of a learning community were appropriate for traditional, linear kinds of training, but not for more advanced, collaborative (or social) learning environments.

Would you like to know how to improve the health of your learning communities?  Do you want to know your gaps and opportunities?  We will provide a report that will help you and your company know whether your learning communities are meeting member and business needs, and identify specific ways to extract more value.  There is no cost for the use of the toolkit or the report.  There is no obligation to buy additional products or services.

Click here for details

Twitter as a learning tool

1,000 Twitter users were asked in a survey to state why they like Twitter.  Here is what they said:

  • It accelerated my learning curve.
  • It helped me with personal learning.
  • It expanded my circle

The point of social media tools like Twitter is to turn learning into a more collaborative, participatory, social, or natural experience. 

Many learning professionals are using Twitter (or micro-blogs) to foster a learning community.  Twitter is also used by learners as a back channel during and after a training event.  Trainers use Twitter as a way to receive immediate feedback on the relevance of their course.  After class, trainers use micro-blogging to support relationships among the learners and to further their learning by connecting learners to other resources. Trainers use Twitter to post tips of the day, questions, writing assignments, and provide other prompts to keep learning going.

Some believe that Twitter is even more powerful as a social learning tool outside the context of the “classroom”.   A company might formalize the Twitter process by selecting exemplary performers to post regularly, and pick those who should follow their posts.  This might help promote and encourage best practices. 

Another popular use of Twitter and other micro-blogging sites is the building of professional networks. I started using Twitter to get to know other “like minded” people.  Within weeks, I was posting regular updates about my ideas and experiences, getting feedback and help from others, and attracting some followers.

Compared to instant messaging, which requires you to address people individually, Twitter allows me to broadcast to a a defined group of followers.  Using it as a tool to get expert advice on the fly has returned immediate and tangible results.

Twitter has already reduced my use of email – I love that!

A first visit to Twitter might not convince you of its potential as a professional networking and learning tool. Many of the tweets are not only personal but trivial—what someone is having for breakfast, or where they’re headed next. It’s not unusual for a new user to post an update and be completely ignored.

Twitter (or micro-blogging) is only one kind of social media tool with the potential to support professional networking and learning. Those that offer collaborative file sharing, mindmapping, writing, and editing capabilities can support more complex collaborative learning than Twitter. But for the moment, nothing else is as immediate or growing as fast.

Give it a try.

Time for “new” training approaches

Corporate learning has not changed much since the days when it was first delivered. Still, we often see learners sitting in classrooms that are arranged so that all of the eyes face towards the front of the room – towards the expert who knows everything we need to know. The designated trainers deliver the course content according to the time allotments and sequence prescribed by the course agenda. There are too few opportunities for the learners to network, discuss, and collaborate. The learners remember very little and do not often believe that the training was too relevant to the challenges and opportunities that they will face back on the job.

Yet we continue to deliver most of corporate training like this – day in and day out.

Now is the time to change the way we develop and deliver training.

I want training that is memorable and unique, relevant and of high quality, that has been endorsed and regulated by my learning community. Training that is presented from differing viewpoints and perspectives and that is adaptive to my needs and learning style.

Why not inclusive training whereby anyone and everyone produces and consumes training material?. I want to see rewards and recognition programmes that encourage people to collaborate and share.

How can we further close the gap between training and working? How can we create more opportunities for people to learn from the place where they work without having to schedule the training at times that are only convenient for the trainers and venues? Can we build a learning ecosystem with easy and direct access to training materials and experts, and where the pursuit of new knowledge and skills results in improved networks and a stronger sense of belonging?

Rather than creating relatively large training modules that take hours to complete, lets organize and disseminate learning nuggets that last minutes and that can be re-arranged by the learner.

Rather than delivering training that is prescribed by an agenda, within the planned timeframes, let’s allow for more interaction, discussion, collaboration, networking, and participation before, during and after the training event.

Here are a few ideas of how we might change the way we develop and deliver training:

Before a training event

  • The learners use social networks to form relationships with the other learners and trainers. The intent is to look for common ground, understand the differing motives for learning, and to form learning groups.
  • The trainers produce blogs that contain their objectives for the course, their expectations of the learners, and their main ideas about some of the content. Learners read these blogs and provide feedback and reactions to the trainer via blog comments.
  • Learners access discussion threads that are organized around the key learning objectives. This is an opportunity for learners to ask questions, debate ideas, and share insights. This preparatory step helps learners get into the right frame of mind.
  • Learners create and share learning segments that relate to the course objectives. This might also include sample deliverables, presentations, lessons learnt, or best practices.
  • The training agenda is published on a wiki and presented to the learners before the training event and learners have an opportunity to offer revisions. This feedback will allow the trainers to consider making changes that will increase training relevancy and effectiveness.
  • The trainers and learners produce and publish podcasts stating their expectations of the training and why the training is important. This will help all trainers and learners become more familiar with each other and enable more effective learning group choices.

During a training event

  • At the end of each major training segment or day, the trainer creates a blog entry with his or her reflections and ideas on how to make the training more effective next time. Learners provide comments and feedback for others to see.
  • Learners continue to revise training materials on the wiki.
  • Learners and trainers use the discussion threads to capture key questions, opinions, and answers.
  • Trainers and learners continue to use the social networking tool to arrange meetings, share ideas, and build deeper relationships.
  • Trainers and learners produce more podcasts to summarize their key take aways, opinions about the training, and suggestions for how to apply the learnt knowledge and skills back on the job.
  • Trainers record lectures and demonstrations so the learners can access and replay them again during or well after the training event.
  • Trainers and learners use chat rooms during lectures and demonstrations to share comments and ask questions.

After the training event

  • The learners continue to revise the training materials on the wiki after trying to apply the learnt knowledge and skills back on the job.
  • Trainers continue to moderate discussion threads.
  • Learners continue to network with each other and with the trainer.
  • Learners continue to share learning segments in the form of podcasts, presentations, white papers, and sample deliverables.

There is no reason why learning should stop and start at designated times. Trainers should continually provide learning guidance and assistance to all of their learners each and every day.

The need for new and different training responses

Continued organisational change is producing flatter, more flexible and responsive organisations with work cultures that support employees to be more autonomous, innovative and more customer-focused than in the past.   Workers now require a wider range of capabilities, skills and technical know-how to operate in these new environments.  How can we incorporate training into workplaces in ways that support this new type of worker?

Starter for 10 – some ideas worth considering

  • tailor the learning to the learner
  • give learners more control 
  • empower trainers as effective managers of learning 
  • encourage collaborative learning and interaction
  • use virtual training environments
  • communicate better with business leaders about the returns gained from training

Can podcasts replace Professors?

Students who downloaded a podcast lecture achieved substantially higher exam results than those who attended the lecture in person.


I remember going to class at university and wondering whether I should record the lectures.  I never did this because it was easier and more efficient to take good notes during the lecture and then meet with classmates to compare my notes.  What if I had the option to attend the lecture or download a podcast of the lecture (and not attend the lecture)?  I might have opted to download the podcast and never go to class (unless there was a useful class discussion).