|In my previous role at BEA Systems/Oracle, I created and managed a Professional Services business unit for training clients on the implementation of Enterprise Portals (including Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Content Management, Integration of third-party products) and Business Process Management tools. I have been exchanging with many people on twitter, mainly on the topic of Social CRM, but I keep my eye open to the topic of Enterprise Learning, and from time to time I exchange tweets with Frédéric Domon (@fdomon). So I was happy to be asked to contribute to the Enterprise Collaborative Initiative 🙂|
Social Learning seems to me to be an innovative approach to continuous learning (I am an eternal student of life myself). From what I understand, the idea is to use the web 2.0 to enable free-flow collaborative learning that builds upon the insights of others and leads to new ones. This is advocated in opposition to the more traditional, structured instructor-led top-down approach to learning (tell me if I’m wrong?).
Though I do believe that there is a valid argument to the collaborative approach, I believe there should be a juxtaposition with the traditional one. In my opinion be, what is learned through collaborative learning should formalised, structured an made available as traditional learning. The main reason behind this thinking is that there is a risk to create barriers to new entrants to access and acquire the knowledge of the ‘regulars’. One could argue that the regulars could do knowledge transfer – which is great in theory – but who has the resources to do so (time, effort, motivation)? I think it will simply not scale.
I would advocate the following schema for new entrance to empower newcomers to become active contributors.
Baseline knowledge transfer (developed through a ‘community effort’, extracted from the results of collaborative learning process) to acquire the thinking patterns, guiding principles or just plain knowledge elements.
Skills and knowledge Transfer
Exchange with and guidance from the community to put into practice, get up to speed,
Continuous learning to further one’s own ideas and incorporating those of others, attracting newcomers to infuse new insights and ideas, and synthetisation, formalisation and diffusion of current knowledge to reduce barriers to entry
The training department can play an important role, especially in the the formalisation and diffusion area, assisting newcomers in their entry and identifying those whom they can help in improving their social learning skills in order to improve the collaborative learning experience for all.
When getting a customer or system integrator up to speed for successful project implementation, my experience has found that it was more beneficial to have everyone talking the same language and understand the base principles (base knowledge), and have this followed through by co-development with subject-matter experts (the Consulting department) to acquire the Best Practices. This I believe was a good basis for both the customer and integrator to effectively communicate and progress in unison towards the desired outcome of the project, whilst leaving sufficient leeway for collaborative learning to achieve improvements beyond the inital goals. Even though the primary subject of Entreprise Collaborative concentrates on internal-facing issues, the above ideas are valid in this context as well.
Would you agree with this point of view? Please leave your thoughts below so that we can all learn from this together 🙂