We are in the Age of Social Learning

We have finally entered an era when a majority of organizations are using social and collaborative tools for learning. I know that it seems like this has been occurring for years now, but — despite all the talk — social learning technologies have not really caught on until recently.  According to Brandon Hall Group’s recently published Industry Perspective on social and collaborative learning, 85% of companies are now at least experimenting with the concept. Just a couple of years ago, less than half of companies were doing anything of any significance.

On top of that, nearly three-quarters of companies believe there will be even more focus on social and collaborative learning over the next 12 months. I guess that answers the question of whether or not social learning is really a “thing” or not. And why shouldn’t it be? We’ve been talking for years now that 70% to 80% of learning takes place in informal settings and that we need to connect people to learning in an ongoing, continuous way. These are the technologies that allow this to happen.

Take a look at the study and you’ll see where the beauty of social technologies lies. It’s connections. The most effective social tools are things like discussion forums, expert directories and learner comments – connections that put the power of learning in the learners’ hands.

The other key is in contextualization. The profiles that provide the foundation of social media activity streams and expert directories also allow for much more personalized and contextualized learning than ever before. Learners no longer need to sift through an endless sea of irrelevant material to find what they want. Now the material needed presents itself readily to the learner. Learners are even presented with items and/or connections they would otherwise never have known they needed, something that was virtually impossible without social contextualization.

I’ve said it before many times, these connections have always existed, we’ve just never had the technology to bring them to their full potential. Anyone dismissing this type of collaboration as a fad or a waste of time is completely missing the point.

In addition to the aforementioned study, there will also be a great session around social and collaborative learning (among others) at Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Excellence Conference 2015. Some other reasons why you should consider attending Jan. 28-30, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, FL:

  • FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE: All breakout sessions showcase global organizations that have faced the same challenges as you and conquered them through Human Capital Management initiatives that delivered break-through business results. The case studies presented have earned prestigious Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards in Learning & Development, Talent Management, Human Resources, Technology Advancement and Sales Enablement.
  • INTERACTION: This is not a conference where you sit in the back of the room staring at your mobile device while a presenter drones on for an hour. Our education sessions feature 3-5 short, practical presentations by senior executives of award-winning organizations, followed by interactive discussions between panelists and attendees. Plus, our ‘Unconference’ and Executive Roundtable are driven by what attendees want to discuss, and all meals and receptions have a strong networking component.
  • DIVERSE TOPICS: Based on our research, we’ve selected the hottest and most-compelling topics in Human Capital Management, including leadership development, integrated talent management, learning-driven business transformation, technology selection, high-performance onboarding, workforce analytics, employee engagement, social and mobile learning, talent acquisition, HR-business partnership, plus additional topics you determine.
  • RESEARCH FOCUS: All sessions are moderated by our world-class HCM analysts, who start each session by sharing their latest research – some of it so fresh that it will not have been published yet. You’ll have access to the best and newest data, which is otherwise available only to our members.

David Wentworth, Senior Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.

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