Research and trends support what we have known for a while. Social media is considered extremely important for building business presence and company outreach. After all, as the experts would have us understand, Facebook alone has over 800 million users, and if it were a country – would be the third largest in the world!
Early last month, I participated in an Argyle Executive Forum conference: 2011 Leadership in Human Capital Spotlight: Learning and Development in New York. As the meeting overview outlines, the conference set out to examine the innovative strategies that learning executives are using to develop and implement successful corporate cultures.
Given the above facts just about Facebook, it’s not surprising that one area of innovation that became focal in many discussions during this meeting was how social networking has become part of the new learning reality. But while Facebook provides an important case study, and serves as a prevalent model in any “new, new media” based learning and development initiative, there are of course many other social media platforms that are similarly valuable.
The broader reality is that the new demands for learning and development fit hand-in-glove with capabilities that the wider field of social media provides. For instance, there’s increasing desire for learning to take place outside formal learning environments, and on a continuous basis. Social media provides channels to achieve precisely this sort of environment – where learners can share their experiences, and continue to engage in active learning while actually being immersed in the realities of what they are learning.
The benefits that social media provide to learning environments are remarkable. This new way of social learning means that workers are continually able to access tools that allow them to collaborate, even while they continue to internalize the material they are learning, and put new ideas into practice.
The benefit that this provides to the organization is that learning becomes less formal and rigid, and instead is more naturally and efficiently integrated into each learner’s workflow and life. If all this points to retained learning, then building an environment that encourages social learning is well worth the consideration and effort.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida