Home > learning2.0 > What's the real question?

What's the real question?

The Learning Circuits’ big question for July focuses on whether or not learning professions should lead the charge in adopting web 2.0 technologies. In short:

  • Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?
  • Shouldn’t they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?
  • And then shouldn’t the learning organization become a driver for the organization?
  • And like in the world of libraries don’t we need to market ourselves in this capacity?

I had a great professor in university, who used to tell us during an exam, “If you can’t answer the question that I’ve asked, rewrite it. I don’t want to know what you don’t know. I want to know what you know.”

I loved that class. I also rewrote a lot of questions.

I think what we should really be asking ourselves is:

  • How do we* help people recognize the value of social connectedness in the workplace?
  • And, how do we support them on that journey?

The original questions are preaching to the choir. Posted in a blog, asking bloggers or blog readers if they should be leading the charge in using/adopting social software is…well… kind of silly. The readers and commenters already are.

So, what can we* do?

* the “we” here refers to everyone, not just learning professionals. But anyone that’s already using the technology to make it easier to do their job.

Instead of preaching the values of blogs, wikis, IM, Flickr, Facebook, etc. to a large group of people. Find two or three people with wide networks and help them solve a workplace issue using these tools.

You overhear Bill grumbling to Sue while warming up his Lean Cuisine that he’s just answered the same question AGAIN for the fourth time this month. He wonders why other people can’t share the information he emails out. You don’t know Bill well, but think, what the heck, I’m going to offer some assistance.

You: “Hi. I couldn’t help overhear, mostly because I was eavesdropping. I think I might be able to help you with your problem.”

Bill: “uh, hi. ummm… yah. ok.” {Gets his Lean Cuisine and starts to walk away}

You: “It would only take a few minutes… and you’d never have to answer the question again.”

Bill (stops and turns): “Oh… that I AM interested in!”

You: “If you have 20 minutes, I can help you set up a blog, post the answer to your common question, and give you some tips that will start diverting people to your blog, instead of your inbox.”

Recruit other people that are passionate to start sending out the same message. Create a task team, with a diverse group of people, from different divisions, departments, or teams. You’ll expand your network far beyond what you could accomplish if only the learning department is involved.

Remember that it’s not about the technology. It’s about the people. The goal of these “tools” and “technologies” is to connect people with people, information, and context. In order words, it’s not about having a blog or editing a wiki. It’s about adding value to your community, sharing information that will save someone else time, creating more value in your own work, etc.

I work for IBM. We have a community at our company that anyone can participate in. It’s called BlueIQ. Our objective is to support and encourage the use of social software throughout the organization through focused education sessions, lunch and learns, success stories, etc. Anyone can participate… it’s not driven my our Corporate Learning department. It’s driven by a division VP that recognized the need for his practitioners to use these tools to enable better performance.

  1. July 11, 2008 at 02:26

    Tēnā koe Kerry!

    I totally agree with you when you say

    “asking bloggers or blog readers if they should be leading the charge in using/adopting social software is…well… kind of silly. The readers and commenters already are.”

    In fact, I have been amazed at the preaching to the converted that’s still going on with this topic. I (almost) got offside with Tony Karrer on the issue, but he has probably worked out by now that in terms of potential (and ultimate) benefits, I’m actually on his side. It’s the way that it’s to be done that I wonder about.

    But . . .

    The first step to overcoming a problem is recognising that there is a problem. I have to give it to Tony and cohorts, they’ve recognised that there is a problem. Now they have to identify exactly what it is.

    Perhaps the revolution approach is not the way to go, despite the obvious revolution in available technologies – and there are heaps!

    But it’s not the technology, it’s the people. Somehow I feel deep down that this is where the chink may lie in getting to the nub of that problem. In fact, the more the technology, the more difficult is the task for those who want to spread the word.

    There’s a lot of inertia out there.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  2. Kerry McGuire
    July 14, 2008 at 15:46

    Hi Ken!!!

    “But it’s not the technology, it’s the people.” This is the best thing I’ve read all day. Seriously….

    I really struggle trying to convert people to a tool and I hear often about tool-fatigue or another tool being foisted on the team. Instead I try to encourage and support collaboration and knowledge sharing. Whether you use a blog, wiki, forum, email, etc. – get your tacit knowledge out there. That seems to resonate with people a lot more.

    You also make a good point about recognizing & identifying the problem. I wonder if learning professionals use social software proportionately less than other groups (say teachers or engineers or lawyers)… Anyone have stats there?

    We also have to remember the 90-9-1 rule…. for every 100 people involved with social media – 90 are readers, 9 comment, and 1 creates content.

  3. July 14, 2008 at 17:27

    Kia ora Kerry!

    I’m glad you found something useful in my comment.

    Another line I’ve heard is “E-learning? Let’s have less E- and more learning”. 🙂

    I’m a firm believer in the 90:9:1 rule, not that I like it, but I just can’t ignore it.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  1. July 8, 2008 at 01:36

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