Federal News Radio Book Club Meeting – “The New Social Learning”

Federal News Radio Book Club - "The New Social Learning"

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This month’s Federal News Radio Book Club selection — “The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media” — helps organizations understand and harness workplace learning potential of social media.

The DorobekINSIDER moderates the discussion with:

  • The book’s authors, Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner
    Bingham is president and CEO of the American Society for Training the Development. Conner is a partner for enterprise collaboration at the Altimiter Group and blogs at Learnativity.com.
  • Andrew Krzmarzick, community manager for GovLoop
  • Mark Oehlert, innovation evangelist at the Defense Acquisition University
    Oehlert blogs at DAU and at e-Clippings.
  • Debbie Weil, a Washington-based corporate social media consultant and author of “The Corporate Blogging Book.” Weil was recently named one of the most influential women in technology in 2010 by Fast Company.

      What is the new social learning?
      Social media has changed the way we learn. Instead of a one-way conversation, people are learning from each other, Conner said.

      In this new learning environment, people are “contributing to that conversation, so they’re not just the reciipent of learning but they can share with other people with what they’re learning,” Conner said.

      This is really a change in culture, as people now learn all the time, she said.

      Collaboration tools aid collective intelligence
      “We’re not talking about training here as we’ve traditionally cast it,” Oehlert said. “It’s people learning what they need to get their jobs done.”

      Organizations are facing more and more complex problems, and collaborative tools can help solve those problems.

      “As these problems intersect in ways that aren’t predictable, the old models of teaching how to solve a problem…are going away,” Bingham said.

      “We need to rely on the collective intelligence of people beyond just our core group,” he said.

      Weil said the new social learning goes beyond collaboration but also breed innovation, which, she said “is much more exciting.”

      Why people don’t embrace the new social learning
      Oehlert said three “very human” factors — fear, control and trust — make people reluctant to embrace these tools.

      “If we don’t address these problems from a human side, these systems will fail,” Oehlert said.

      “Fear will always be there, fear of something new,” Weil said. “But getting out ahead and experiencing the tools and platforms usually gives people a better sense of how they work, and there’s probably less risk than they think.”

      New ‘smart voices’ now heard
      The collaborative culture also shifts who gets heard at an organization.

      Although “your boss is always going to be your boss,” this new learning culture changes who is considered an expert, Oehlert said.

      Weil added, “With these tools and platforms, smart voices can bubble up from the bottom even in fairly rigid government agencies.” She emphasized that these smart voices can come from employees both young and old.