According to AccelaWork’s founder, when it comes to business, we all could benefit from continued training. And thanks to the ever-improving online technology of today, we are seeing just how effective workforce development and continuing education has become for those who partake in social learning.
Robby Slaughter’s article, The Next Educational Frontier, was featured in an issue of the Hamilton County Business Magazine. Below is an excerpt from the article which appears on page 20 of the magazine.
Traditional approaches to learning are making room for 21st century alternatives. Online programs have taken the world by storm and represent the fastest growing sector of the education industry. You can now earn certificates, college degrees and even doctorates from the comfort of your living room. Most of these courses of study, however, are characterized by a defined curriculum. Much of what we need to know for work is too new or too open ended to fit easily into the classical model of education.
That’s why social learning—learning through social media—represents the next frontier. You’ve already encountered this phenomenon on a microscopic scale. A Facebook post asking for a local recommendation (such as an orthodontist in Westfield), is a simple example of social learning. Among the community of your Facebook friends, there is likely to be some expertise in this topic. Furthermore, the credibility of any suggestion is reinforced by existing relationships. Social learning is gaining new wisdom from people distinctly qualified to share.
Other social media websites are specifically focused on social learning. Stack- Exchange (www.stackexchange.com) is a network of over fifty Q&A sites on various topics. Users can ask and answer questions, vote, comment, and establish reputation. Many of the sites are related to technology, but subjects range from home improvement to cooking to Judaism. Likewise, the website Quora (www.quora.com) is also centered around questions and answers. Quora is gaining traction among entrepreneurs and business professionals who are seeking advice.
The big kid on the block, however, is LinkedIn. In addition to publishing your career history and networking with others, LinkedIn also has an extensive “Answers” section. Even more powerful are LinkedIn Groups. Virtually every topic imaginable has associated groups with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of professionals as members. Interacting within these discussion areas raises your LinkedIn notoriety, giving experts the incentive to help novices. Furthermore, if you want to check the education, experience and even references of someone giving you advice on LinkedIn, their own profile is only a click away.
Workforce development might occur at any time, in any place and via any medium. You may send employees to conferences or classrooms or ask them to login to webinars or conference calls. Ultimately, though, the most effective way to learn may be interacting directly with experts. Social media websites grant us incredible and immediate access to people throughout the world. Consider making social learning part of your career path. You’ll gain knowledge from teachers who you may never meet.
Here at AccelaWork, we are confident in stating that social media, in all its complexity, is a powerful tool that provides profound opportunity for growing business and expanding knowledge. Just as you would go to an expert within your organization for their thoughts on improving workflow, why would you not want to reach out to experts all over the world? Of course, you have to be careful to not blindly take advice, but as with any learning, critically monitor your intake and you’ll be able to figure out what the best route forward is.
To learn more about potential social learning benefits, consider reaching out to our business process improvement consultants for further information.