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Don’t Get Left Behind by Social Learning

 -  8/26/11

Many organizations are still hesitant to implement social media as a learning tool. But sooner or later, all will be forced to follow.

Corporate learning departments should be moving toward wider acceptance of social media as a serious tool. Some already have, but experts say many are still moving too slowly on implementing such platforms.

Out are the days when training videos were administered via VHS in a dark room. Today, training is more likely to occur in the few moments where an employee puts aside that spreadsheet, wipes the mustard from his ham-and-cheese sandwich off his face and logs on to YouTube to learn about a new department policy.

Plenty of CLOs have caught on to this. But for those who haven’t, time may be running short. “It’s not really a choice of if [corporations] want to take advantage of it [social media] or not,” said Anders Gronstedt, president of Gronstedt Group Inc., a firm that has specialized in corporate learning for the last 14 years. “It’s here — and the choice is whether they want to unleash it or whether they want to try and stop the inevitable.”

Throughout the learning and development industry, there was initially some skepticism about using social media as a learning tool. Now, many organizations are embracing it. The bold have even taken the step of building company-specific internal social networks driven as learning tools.

Intel Corp., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based technology company that manufacturers computer chips, is one example. Its internal social network, Planet Blue, gives employees the opportunity to connect with other employees, create groups and streamline ideas on the fly. “You can have status updates; you can connect with people; you can have discussion groups,” said Allison Anderson, a learning innovation program manager at Intel. “Eventually, we will implement a video tool.”

While Planet Blue is still in its infancy, Anderson strongly believes social learning has been and will continue to be embraced by Intel’s employees. One way, she said, is through career development. “People want to know how they can move their career, so we have a fairly robust career development program that includes workshops — but it also includes this community of people who are experts,” Anderson said. “People come in and ask questions and do career chat and learning.”



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