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What is Social Learning?

My presentation at the VA Learning University Social Learning Summit

1 of 38
VA Learning University July 20, 2011 WHAT IS SOCIAL LEARNING? Steve Radick, Lead Associate Booz Allen Hamilton
WHO IS THIS GUY? ,[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object],[object Object]
meet  Alex
Alex  works  here… U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Columbia, SC
He is a  public affairs specialist ,  passionate about using his skills to help improve Veteran care
Alex is widely regarded by his team as an  emerging leader with great potential

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What is Social Learning?

  • 1. VA Learning University July 20, 2011 WHAT IS SOCIAL LEARNING? Steve Radick, Lead Associate Booz Allen Hamilton
  • 2.
  • 4. Alex works here… U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Columbia, SC
  • 5. He is a public affairs specialist , passionate about using his skills to help improve Veteran care
  • 6. Alex is widely regarded by his team as an emerging leader with great potential
  • 7. But lately, Alex has started looking for other opportunities
  • 8. You see, Alex’s career is stuck in a rut Photo courtesy of Flickr user woodleywonderworks
  • 9. Despite hundreds of available training courses, Alex doesn’t feel he’s advancing professionally
  • 10. From his professors… From his friends… From his role models… … .and from people he didn’t even know When he was in college, Alex felt he was always learning From other people’s professors…
  • 11. Learning didn’t have a beginning , a middle, or an end… The learning didn’t start or stop just because Alex was “ in class ”
  • 12. “ Sure, I attended class because I had to, but most of what I actually learned didn’t happen there”
  • 13. It happened here -
  • 16. Here… Photo courtesy of Flickr user PICNIC Network
  • 20. And of course, here… Photo courtesy of Flickr user amtrak_russ
  • 21. Colleges have learned that those students who form social relationships during the first year of school are more likely to graduate on time
  • 22. Unfortunately, Alex has gone from learning from people, conversations, experiences , and relationships…
  • 23. … to learning from voices Photo courtesy of Flickr user quinn.anya
  • 27. = If Alex were a sponge , these tools would work out great
  • 28. ≠ Unfortunately, Alex is lacking the necessary sponge genes and can’t always absorb and apply what he’s learning when he needs it most
  • 29. So, instead of learning and growing , Alex does just what’s required of him
  • 30. While his skills stagnate Photo courtesy of Flickr user wallygrom
  • 31. Have Alex’s skills peaked already?? Photo courtesy of Flickr user dherrera_96
  • 32. Alex isn’t getting the professional development he needs, not because of a lack of desire, ambition, or skill Or because of a lack of courses, trained instructors, or delivery methods
  • 33. But because the way Alex learns is different from the way the organization teaches
  • 34. Alex should be learning every day, from everyone around him, not just at specific times from specific instructors
  • 35. Social Learning is about creating an environment where this informal learning is encouraged , shared , captured , and leveraged
  • 36. For Alex, Social Learning is not about blogs, wikis, Twitter, or social networking
  • 37. For Alex, Social Learning is about creating relationships with people from whom he can learn continuously
  • 38. QUESTIONS? 1. Can you empathize with Alex? 3. How can VA create an environment where informal learning is encouraged, shared, captured, and leveraged? 2. What advice would you give Alex?

Editor's Notes

  1. Introduce myself – Been at Booz Allen for 8 years now Created and now lead our social media community of practice This isn’t a position that I was hired into or that was given to me. Thanks to the “social learning” communities we had in place in Booz Allen, I had the ability to: Have a voice, regardless of my title/position Connect with other, similar people who had similar ambitions, similar goals, yet lacked the organization and inspiration to do anything about it Learn about other people/teams across the org and identify ways I could help them
  2. Have you met Alex yet? Maybe you know him? If you don’t know him, I’m sure you know someone just like him.
  3. Alex works here – at the VA facility in Columbia, South Carolina. He’s a public affairs specialist
  4. He’s been with the VA for two years now and is well-known for his communications skills and knowledge about public affairs. He came to the VA from Syracuse University where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communications. He had his choice of jobs coming out of college but came to the VA because his brother is a wounded warrior who served in Iraq and he’s extremely passionate about doing what he can to improve veteran care.
  5. He’s widely regarded as one of VA’s emerging leaders, not just for his public affairs skills, but also for his widespread knowledge of the VA culture, and for his mentoring skills (he’s been mentoring a few VA summer interns and has done a great job with them). Alex has already been promoted once, and his manager thinks he’s got a bright future at VA.
  6. Unfortunately, Alex has started spending his free time looking for other job opportunities. Despite his passion for the VA, his outstanding performance assessments, and his communications skills, he’s not feeling satisfied with his current position or his career path. What happened?
  7. He feels like he’s stuck in a rut. He comes to work, he does what’s asked of him, he gets good reviews, and he enjoys working with his teammates. But he doesn’t feel like he has a voice, he doesn’t feel like he’s making a difference, and he doesn’t feel like he’s learning anymore. Work has become something he does for a paycheck instead of something that he does because he enjoys his job, because he’s constantly learning new skills, and because he’s having an impact. Alex is kind of just…..there….. Does Alex sound familiar now?
  8. How can that be? Alex has access to hundreds of online courses! He’s got the ability to take training in everything from project management to communications to social media. There are hundreds of self-directed online courses he can take at his convenience
  9. True – Alex has the ability to connect to all the information he could ever want. But that’s kinda the problem. When Alex was in college, he not only access to a ton of information, he had access to a ton of people too. His professors, his friends, his role models, his mentors, and even from people he didn’t even know.
  10. Learning didn’t have a beginning, a middle, or an end. It was a continuous journey – Alex was learning academically, socially, formally, informally – everything he did was a learning experience
  11. Sure, Alex absolutely learned in class…but he also learned…
  12. And of course….here
  13. We’ve known for some time that Clustered Networks Spread Behavior Change Faster By Jess McNally Unlike infectious diseases and news, behavior change spreads faster through online networks that have many close connections instead of many distant ties. Redundancy is key, as people are more likely to engage in a behavior if they see many others doing it. “ There has been a lot of theory about the difference between information and behavior spreading ,” said economic sociologist Damon Centola of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of the study published Sept. 3 in Science . “We’ve assumed that they are the same, but you can imagine that behavior is not really like that, that you need to be convinced.” The research has important implications for people designing online communities intended to change or maintain a behavior, like weight watchers or online health communities, Centola said. To do the experiment, he created an internet-based health community and invited people already participating in other online health forums to join. Over 1,500 people signed up to participate, and they were placed anonymously in one of two different kinds of networks: a random network with many distant ties (above left), or a clustered network with many overlapping connections (above right). Users in both networks had the same number of assigned “health buddies.” They couldn’t contact their buddies directly, but they could see how their buddies rated content on the site, and could receive e-mails informing them of their buddies activities. Centola said he deliberately didn’t pay the volunteers, so they would participate out of legitimate interest in the site’s content. In six different trials over a period a few weeks, Centola seeded the site with information about an online health forum and tracked people as they signed up and participated. In the clustered network, 54 percent of the people signed up for the forum, compared to 38 percent in the random network, and almost four times as fast. Not surprisingly, Centola also found the more friends people had that also signed up, the more likely they were to return to the forum to participate.
  14. Any of these sound familiar to you?
  15. Experience indicates that almost all real learning for performance is informal (The Institute for Research on Learning, 2000, Menlo Park), and the people from whom we learn informally are usually present in real time. We all need that kind of access to an expert who can answer our questions and with whom we can play with the learning, practice, make mistakes, and practice some more. It can take place over the telephone or through the Internet, as well as in person. Informal access is not built into the formal learning process, the chances of getting past knowing to doing will be difficult at best. A study of time-to-performance done by Sally Anne Moore at Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 1990s, (Moore, Sally-Ann, "Time-to-Learning", Digital Equipment Corporation, 1998) graphically shows this disparity between formal and informal learning.
  16. It’s about thinking back to when you were in college and you were learning in class, at the cafeteria, on your couch, at the BAR Even if you didn’t realize you were learning. Think back – you were learning about leadership on the football team. You were learning about interpersonal relationships at the bar. You were learning how to communicate with senior leaders when you were having lunch with your professor. Social Learning is about learning from the relationships you build, maintain and grow, not from content you learn or the tools you used
  17. You see, social learning isn’t about the tools – it’s about what those tools enable.
  18. For Alex, social learning is just better learning. It’s about creating relationships with people from whom he can learn continuously.