New Report Touts Benefits of Social Learning for Individuals and Organizations

Author Ben Betts Discusses Importance of Social Interactions in the Learning Process

Pedagogy and Learning, Research Comments (0)

We at Float follow the learning community and its publications closely. In the latest research report released by the eLearning Guild, Ben Betts champions the benefits of social learning in organizations. We enjoyed the paper and recommend it as required reading for anyone considering implementing social in their learning organization.

“I suggest social interactions play such a vital role in the learning process,” Betts says in Social Learning: Answers to Eight Crucial Questions. “The easiest way to create a moment of learning for someone in the workplace is to make the learning experience as meaningful and realistic as possible.”

Betts cites both Jay Cross (who we’ve blogged about in the past), and Jane Hart in making a case for social learning in the organization. He said Cross suggests that 80 percent of learning in organizations comes from informal circumstances such as people talking to each other, doing their work, and learning on the job. “If anything, it seems likely that the rule for workplace learning is probably an underestimate of just how much of our learning is informal,” Betts writes.

He then points to a study conducted by Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT) and the Social Learning Centre in which respondents were asked how important or valuable various workplace learning methods were to them. The results were that social and collaborative activities and personal learning activities were the most important, while training and internal documentation were least important. This suggests that informal learning is more realistic – and more valuable – than formal training.

Additionally, Betts lists many benefits of learning from others, in the presence of others, and in groups.

Realizing there are business risks involved, Betts names several frameworks for stakeholders to leverage social learning in order to mitigate those risks.

One such risk is poor uptake. Betts cites Jane Bozarth’s Social Media for Learning report in saying that less than one-third of organizations have reported they are using social media tools for learning, but that 83 percent of respondents said using social media for learning has value. Betts uses the research to state that workplace uptake of social learning tools could be better if people were to pick their own tools (such as Facebook) instead of using enterprise-mandated tools (such as SharePoint).

We have been a lot of thought to this topic, as well. Our new app, Tappestry, is a great tool the capture the informal and social learning that happens in the organization. Not only do we anticipate enthusiastic adoption from organizations as we ready a launch of Tappestry for organizations at the end of October, but we lots of great new features headed your way for the public version of the app, too. By using Tappestry, employees are able to store what they’ve learned or what they want to learn, and can go back and retrieve that information later.

“The bottom line is this,” Betts says in the report, “leveraging social learning benefits both individuals and organizations.”

We couldn’t put it any better than that.

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Adam Bockler is the communications manager for Float, responsible for all of Float's marketing initiatives. In addition, Adam is a certified DDP Yoga Level 1 instructor, a certified personal trainer, a martial arts instructor, and a graduate of the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy.

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On September 28, 2012
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