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First Day at Learning 2008

corporate training - caught in webAs can be expected, this year’s Masie 2008 is a show and challenging process for learning professionals to check and recheck some of their assumptions about training and development. As can be perceived from my latest blogs, I have social learning networks on the brain…

After participating in a session and as many one-on-one conversations I could fit in, it seems social learning networks go beyond the immediate reach of the traditional corporate training function. How does one deal with the creating of a social milieu that lacks the level of control and compliance that has become so endemic in training programs. Lets remember with all the talk of gen Y we also have become more regulated then ever before.

No one can question that our learners reach out to social networks to gather information. I am getting a sneaking suspicion that what we tend to refer to as social learning is a revisit of the old EPSS (electronic performance support systems) question. We have always believed that training driven by ad hoc learner needs was needed. But the effort to create EPSS has been daunting.

We tend to minimize the openness and self regulation of social learning to the level of a database of unstructured content that may or may not have contributions from few or many contributors. But then if one must ramble on this topic, then the glass is half full. Like it or not, our learners are not foreign to the idea that if we make it painless and motivational enough their knowledge, opinions and impute will land on the corporate wiki, blog and knowledge base and around sites outside the corporate boundary.

A few things I will be pondering over the next few days:

  1. Must the role of the traditional SME be reevaluated? Is the SME a community—not a person—and can such an approach have the responsiveness we demand of SMEs?
  2. How does one design for unstructured content? Do we leave our design at the doorstep once we establish a structure for how information is to be organized?
  3. Will the roles of training departments be largely to become moderators of forums and the cops of wiki and blog posting etiquette?

One thing I do know: The question of social learning is a reality. The question is how long we chose to ignore it or how ready are we to embrace it in a way that has value for our organization?

More to come.