What is Social Learning ? The Million dollar question …

What is Social Learning? The Million dollar question …

This question has been asked on Quora , and there has been many insightful takes on it… Also, another interesting article regarding this very topic and valuable citations can be found here.

Here is my response to what Social Learning means…Lived many times, seen through my eyes, felt in the heart…

Having worked in the HR L&D and continue to collaborate (where Connected Learning is at the heart of every discussion), and now, being part of the Formal Training & Delivery team, as a facilitator…. I decided to combine my work experiences, share my thoughts and my opinions on What is Social Learning.

Here I begin
Social Learning is an approach, anavenue that smart organizations choose to take, in order to remain aligned with the market demands, and respond well to people’s (workers) needs.

As a result, there are three values that I feel emerge through my actions, based on my beliefs. This emergence is related to my attitude, my perception of things, the sentiment and engagement all around me


In my own opinion and repeated personal experience, I feel that Social Learning is the combination of three emerging values

  1. Learning
  2. Communicating
  3. Collaborating

I am basically referring to a mindset of demonstrating leadership and proactivity (Learning), a jovial and tactful approach (communication) and the safeguarding of a dynamic collaboration cycle . And those three occurrences or manifestations are very closely linked.

I can and will tell you that to be an active contributor in a profitable and learning organization, I Always project my ideal environment in my mind, why? Because it is possible due to the message the Org is sending to me each day, that I am empowered, always able to make things better, thanks to my colleagues and available resources. In return, I think positively when I wake up each morning, seeking and spreading good karma so to speak.

Some barriers to consider

Now, these values are not easily weaved into our work lives. We are talking about social and emotional intelligence here when dealing with being digitally public , added to cultural shifts in thinking it is essential to have a reproduction of yourself digitally to be findable, along with light requirements to some tech savyness…now that can cause pressure on our leaders, on ourselves as leaders.

Let’s start with learning and work…In 2012, what is called “do the job”, is now more about listening and learning or detecting the sentiment towards the “brand” and adjust along the way, become more agile. A worker is now using his brains a lot more that the good old manual work (automation) days. Brain work, or knowledge work, I can call it that, is done via learning, and that is knowing everything about the context (client) and adjust to them (process, environment, products ). Sigh, we still have a tendency to remain re-active, and work in automated ways.

Also, given the client is now more connected than ever (info and people), we as workers need to mirror his pace in living, listen, learn and understand, in order to deliver an appealing and matching product. It’s where cultures appeal to one another … And one needs to be proactive, which means thinking and acting ahead, use foresight … We no longer need to let someone do the thinking for us, and tell us what and how we need to learn to be efficient at work, we need to tell each other what we need to know in order to make the right decisions and drive results, we need to go out on the field, think on our feet… Not everyone feels they should get out there… roll up their sleeves and learn the true context.

And now, values and mental interference

About technology and work… if a person does not know their work offers Social Technologies as well as adequate support, or does not know how to use them, this can be considered a barrier to social learning…

About communication and work… if a person is tech savy, but cannot communicate well, is rude, abrasive, defensive, pushy, too top down, or even shy, etc… this also is a major hindrance to reach eventual collaboration.

And finally, collaboration at work…if the person is simply not authentic, is online to hoard information form others, does not give back to the community or be transparent with their interlocutor (s), truth be told, he/she would be at a loss, a major one, due to a bad reputation, negative influence, you name it… What am saying is that reciprocity between workers is what workers tend to detect in order to collaborate fully.

All it takes is one of those three values to either not be assessed, adopted or the slightest “breakdown” in that weaving an element of this “mechanism” or thought process, will hinder our chances to demonstrate how active and engaged we are when it comes to social learning. Results will be impacted one way or another.

I do realize that learning by lurking is greatly efficient as well, and has its immense rewards, but there is nothing else like highly engaged workers who exude an amazing leadership philosophy and learn with and from others, actively… And openly!

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Adapting to a new concept

It takes a little getting used to, when it comes to putting social learning at the forefront of our work lives, as i mentioned, this shift is cultural and innate, we cannot simply turn the switch “on” and engage differently… we have been conditioned for over 20 years in schools and work to prioritize the teachers, trainers, the books and then ourselves, so much that we forgot how we naturally learn, and learn best, and that is with and from others

I think, the value and skill of adapting to this emerging trend is crucial in this case, and the value of adapting becomes essential to have or to at least assess, should we decide to change our leadership philosophy and Learn Socially.

As a closing statement

Social learning turns out to be the proof, or end result that folks that are conscious and caring about their own development and overall corporate and social responsibility, turn to others proactively to help and be helped (Learning) and jive well regardless of job title or level (communication) and share knowledge openly and enrich the community (collaboration).

What do you think? Share if you care ….

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About Ralph

LEARNING 2.0 ADOPTION COUNCIL MEMBER Active member of a cross-functional group of leaders aimed to help drive a culture of collaboration, open leadership and engagement across the organization.. Learning Specialist @TELUS - I am a 21st century Facilitator driving the Learning 2.0 change Twitter Bio communicator- learner - facilitator - collaboration & connected learning adopter - social learner - personal growth - sports - peace- life
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8 Responses to What is Social Learning ? The Million dollar question …

  1. Pingback: What is Social Learning ? The Million dollar question … | SteveB's Social Learning Scoop | Scoop.it

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