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Three Practical Considerations for Implementing Social Learn

by TonyYang

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While your company may have made the decision to start integrating social learning in the organization, implementing the change may prove to be less than straight forward. Below are some practical considerations for your organization as it begins to integrate social learning in corporate training.


Before you embark upon any social learning initiative, make sure you have a solid understanding of your organization's culture and how it supports collaboration. Most corporate 'portal' initiatives usually launch with a bang! - meaning everyone logs in to check out the new site and then it quickly turns into a virtual ghost town. This is often a reflection of the all too common "what's in it for me?" corporate culture.

For social learning to be successful, you need to really understand and perhaps change how you motivate and recognize the organizational contributions made by your employees. For some excellent reading on the subject of highly effective teams, check out Keith Ferrazzi's "Who's Got Your Back", Stephen Covey's "The Speed of Trust" and Patrick Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team". Also, take a look at this great article by Marcia Conner and Steve LeBlanc on how culture and technology provides the foundation for social learning to thrive.


Otherwise known as "who gets to do what?", governance is the model that you put in place that ultimately dictates who gets to publish, review and rate or comment on content. The traditional governance approach in corporate training is that a relatively small group of people define and create learning content, usually with the help of one or two SMEs (Subject Matter Experts). The broader learner audience consumes this content, usually based upon compliance needs and job role requirements.

For social learning to be effective, you need to figure out how to fit informal, peer-based learning into your model and to recognize that on a micro-level, SMEs exist throughout your organization. Susan may bring into the organization a skill or best-practice that is highly developed but may not be core to their existing job role.

Long term employees often have invaluable tips garnered from years of experience serving in various roles and departments in the company. The beauty of social learning is that it creates a level playing field, where everyone has the opportunity to contribute a unique perspective or nugget of wisdom.

When designing your social learning governance model, don't throw the baby out with the bath water. There are clear reasons why governance exists around your formal learning processes. These do not necessarily change with the introduction of social learning you are simply adding a layer to the model.

Keep it Simple

When choosing a social learning platform, appeal to the lowest common denominator. In other words, keep it simple. The tools/platforms that you choose should be fast and easy enough to use that people will embrace the technology and start using it. Creating content, uploading content, sharing content, making it searchable, adding assessments and comments, viewing reports and bundling content together should all be easy to do.

If you've planned this properly, you may choose to have everyone established as "content creators" and commentators, but only certain individuals able to create and edit assessments and review reports. You may choose to reward participation in the social learning platform.

For your 'keener' types, perhaps the creation of a monthly learning nugget could be a formal metric on their SMART employee objectives. You could reward frequent contributors with a gift card or other incentive. Your culture and corporate policy will dictate what you can and can't do with incentives but you may need to consider something like this to drive early adoption and continued participation.

There may be more considerations for effectively implementing social learning in an organization. If you’d like to learn more about social learning and how you can implement a social learning environment in your workplace, visit Authored by Michael Rose, this blog was originally published on Knoodle’s blog on July 14, 2011.

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