What are you doing here?

Why are you are reading this blog at this moment?  What makes you think reading this is a good idea?

Consider how you would respond if a supervisor (or spouse!) asked you those questions. 

Non-trainers typically seem to evaluate training with  the following 2 questions:

Was the training (content & design) ‘good’? 

Was the trainer ‘good’? 

A common (but unspoken) assumption seems to be that it is the trainer’s responsibility to ensure that the learner does, in fact, learn something.   Failure to learn = Failure of trainer.   I don’t want to take the trainer our of that equation completely, but what is the learner’s responsibility for his own learning?  With that question in mind, I love the question raised this week by SLQOTD:

How does SL change the learner’s accountability to learn? How can an organization encourage learner accountability?

SL is a “You reap what you sow” learning experience.  The learner has a responsibility to cultivate the relationships and content that will yeild returns. 

What are sowing behaviors?  Friending, Following, Commenting, Posting, Blogging, RSS feeds.  Any others?   I’m new to this, so let me know what’s missing here.

What can be reaped?  Fluency in emerging practices; Problem solving via social network; Reduced need for supervision as ideas are vetted within the social network…Again, what am I missing here?  I know there is more. 

Not all activity in the name of SL is necessarily productive.  In keeping with the reap/sow metaphor, an unmotivated learner could spend a lot of time cultivating weeds while the healthy crops waste away. Organizations should encourage (monitor?) learners to assess their social networks:  How relevant are the memberships?  How pertinent are the exchanges?

The ultimate question to ask the learner is,  “How are you learning with SL/SM?” …and, at the risk of sounding Dr. Phil-esque, “How is that working for you?”  I’m convinced that asking “What have you learned?” is not a fair assessment of SL investment.  “What have you learned?” prompts a response based on informational content, but the questions neglects the intellectual vetting that SL provides. 

Encouraging SL involves modeling the right behaviors within the organization.  Establish SM as one of the primary means of communication.  The old adage, “What gets counted gets done,” is tricky for SL.  It’s not as simple as counting the followers & friends.    (For insight from someone exploring the metrics of SL, check out Davidove. )

Integrate SL into daily operations.  An employee who calls with a question can be asked, “How have others responded to this question?”  OR “Let’s post that and see what we get.”  OR “I don’t have time to talk right now, post that question on my _(blog, tweet, wiki, microblog)_ and I’ll reply soon. ”  [By the way, my thinking from this is from Overcoming 10 Objections to Social Learning  (check the chat, too) ]

 Ultimately, keep SL activities grounded in the organization’s mission.  SL is  a means to the end, with the end being improved performance of the company and the individual.


3 Responses to “What are you doing here?”

  1. Sue Says:

    I just had to answer the first few questions (it’s too late in the day to delve any deeper than that). Why am I reading this blog? Because it had a catchy title by someone I’ve enjoyed posts from before. Sad but true. Snag me with a good title and you’ve probably got me to read the whole post. 🙂

  2. MattyBee Says:

    “SL is a “You reap what you sow” learning experience. The learner has a responsibility to cultivate the relationships and content that will yield returns. ”

    You have hit it on the head dstev! They need to have a wealth of skills under their belt to get the most out of SL: Motivation, initiative, self-discipline, time management and research skills.

    Maybe its the facilitator’s role to ensure this? If so how do we facilitate that? I examined that concept in a blog post entitled Social Learning doesn’t work



  3. Paul Jinks Says:

    Why am I reading this? Because I got an email saying you’re following me on Twitter and I might like to follow you back. 😉

    So I thought I’d check out your blog. And I hope you’ll check out my blog back.

    I hope to develop ideas I can use in my teaching and in the teaching of others through this exchange. I’ve learned that most people who follow me on Twitter have stimulating viewpoints and ideas on SL/SM and many other topics. I also want to experience the kinds of things that I’m asking learners and teachers to try.

    Any other reason? Curiosity. 😀

    I do this while I am at work. What value does this add to my organisation, or to my ability to do my job or to me as an individual? Only I and possibly a couple of close colleagues can answer those questions.

    The ‘knowledge economy’ requires workers to ask themselves ‘what is my project?’ and to negotiate their own ways to evaluate their work. Education and training traditionally take ownership of these core skills from the learner.

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