Sep 17, 2010

Leveraging Social Media Tools for Learning

New Social LearningImage by cdorobek via Flickr
As a person who's passionate about learning - as well as a social media enthusiast - I have blogged and talked about how social tools could be used for learning within organizations.

So I was quite excited to get a copy of Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham's book "The New Social Learning". Marcia is a Partner at the Altimeter Group and Tony is the CEO of the American Society of Training and Development.

The book is a great collection of leading edge organizations that are experimenting successfully with various social technologies (like internal social networking, microsharing, video-tagging, communities of practice) to enable their employees to learn and connect with each other.

The first good news is that you don't need to be a tech organization to deploy social tools to enable people to learn from each other. The examples in the book range from organizations like the CIA to Booz to Wells Fargo to Coca Cola.

The second good news is that deploying these tools does not mean a lot of expense unlike the earlier investments into technology that enabled learning like LMSs and e-learning content.

The third good news is that trainers can breathe easy. They are not going to be redundant anytime soon - but if they leverage these tools they can help their learners learn better and faster.

What I liked about the book is that it takes each argument that organizations would take against implementing social media tools - and gives reasons why it would work. This is a great resource for HR and learning people who are looking to be change agents. It has tonnes of tips on how to leverage social media for in-person events like conferences and classroom events.

The book also looks at the underlying reasons why social technologies are being adopted - and how organizations have a choice to either get in their employees' way or to use it. There's an appendix on governance which looks at organizations like IBM and how they put in systems and processes that help them become a "social business"

Where I think this book could have been better would be by including a chapter on non-social media savvy HR and L&D people on introduction to how they can use each tool for their own growth and learning. Maybe there's another book idea there?

That aside, this is a must read book for anyone who is working in the areas of employee learning and wants to build a more open and collaborative learning organization.
You can see the book's website here and keep up with it on Twitter at @newsociallearn
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