The Age of Social Learning – Eight Trends for Business

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At a recent HR executive networking group, several trends in social learning resonated with me based on my own needs as a business learner, as well as trends across our PR consultants.

My attention was caught in particular by the statistic that people learn 70% through job experience, 20% from others and 10% from course learning and reading. However, on average, companies focus 70% of their training resources on course learning and reading. Couple this with the following trends in how people want and need information, and a compelling argument is made for focusing more energy and resources on connecting people rather than developing another half day training course.

Business agility is critical.  The ability to quickly respond to the “mash up” of all the different things going on in the business is crucial.  The breadth of information needed is continually expanding.

People want data quickly, when they need it.  Individuals must quickly gain access to and learn new information to be effective – time is of the essence.

Visual tools improve learning.  Timely videos are a very practical and effective way to share information.  People are no longer getting hung up on how unpolished a video may be – it is more important to get the content out there when it is needed.

Global time management is important.  What is the quickest and most effective way to connect the learning regardless of time zone or geography?  Connecting the collective, global knowledge across the business is critical.

Less is more.  Shorter, more condensed learning opportunities are becoming favored over half day training programs.  Short videos, one pagers, infographics, or a quick Skype calls with colleagues are better received than finding time for longer training programs.

Crowd sourcing is in.  Individuals expect access to information on a variety of topics.  Crowd sourcing is simply asking a smart question to a group of people for their input and views – whether this is internally (i.e. global email – “Who has crisis experience in India that I can brainstorm with?”) or externally (i.e. Facebook post – “I am looking at smart phones – iPhone or HTC?”).

Use of learning technology is increasing.   Social media tools, wikis, mobile device access and “gamification” are making it easier to build natural collaboration into business learning.

Learning cultures trump technology.  The best learning cultures encourage people to teach others in the organization and build an innovative and collaborative environment.  A culture where individuals are free with ideas, information and knowledge is critical for grassroots learning – no form of technology or tool will significantly impact learning without it.

What are you doing to adapt to these learning trends in your business?

For more insight and analysis from industry-leading experts on expanding corporate knowledge in the digital age, check out Intrepid Learning Systems eBook, Learning Experts at Work:  How Social Tools and Technology Catalyzed a Learning Renaissance.