Social media and social learning are a part of everyday life for most people today. Since people get their information from these sources it behooves and organization to take advantage of this trend. Most experts agree that smart companies will use these tools to their advantage while others will be left behind. Also, being part of social media allows companies to stay in touch with the needs of their customers both internal and external.
Another importance reason to utilize social media and social learning is that it allows for the sharing of information among employees regardless of department. This practice helps to build unity and cooperation among employees in and out of departments. This practice also helps to build a “we” culture instead of “they” culture. Too many times companies have failed and struggled due to a lack of cooperation and information sharing between departments.
Even given all of the barriers that companies face to effective social learning, it can still be a valuable asset to workforce training. Social learning needs to be used and viewed as a complement to traditional classroom training. Classroom training is still needed for deeper learning, but social learning provides additional venues and opportunities for learning throughout the organization.
Social learning allows for training sessions to be recorded and viewed by employees around the country at the same or later times. This flexibility saves the company lots of time and money as satellite employees do not need to travel to receive the same training as those at the corporate office. In fact, these training sessions can be viewed on different platforms such as computers, tablets, and even mobile phones. This flexibility allows employees to watch and review materials at non peak times or at their leisure. Trainings can also be done via video conferencing so that employees can receive real time training without having to leave their offices.
Social learning also allows employees to share knowledge across the company at an instant. Employees can use tools such as Cisco Jabber to instantly ask questions and get information from each other allowing for social learning to develop. This sharing of information can also be in the form of step by step instructions, best practices, and product overviews. When the employees have the tools and the knowledge necessary to do their jobs they will be more productive and satisfied with their jobs. Always having to go to the same person who has “all the information” causes strife and individualism in an organization. Sharing of information builds trust and teamwork among the employees.
The first barrier to effective social learning is the individual perceptions of social learning in the workplace. Many people believe that social learning is inferior to traditional classroom training and do not understand the purpose and benefits of social learning to their organization. “A significant barrier to encouraging social learning in the workplace is culture.” (Yupangco & Levy, 2008). Because of this fact, it is important to educate management as well as all employees about how social learning in the workplace can benefit the individual as well as the organization as a whole.
Another barrier to effective social learning is the fear about the loss of confidentiality of company information. Companies are more and more aware that employees are posting about every aspect of their lives on social media. Also companies are concerned with employees use of instant messaging both inside and outside of the company. “Instant Messaging is a red flag for many organizations for fear of breach of confidentiality. In addition to delivering instant results, make sure you point out that the technology also allows for logs and monitoring.” (Yupangco & Levy, 2008).
A third barrier to effective social learning is the potential lack of productivity by employees due to spending too much time on social media. This issue has become so rampant that a survey was conducted recently by Forbes magazine on this issue. “Specifically, the survey revealed 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 39 percent spend one hour or less per week, 29 percent spend 2 hours per week, 21 percent waste five hours per week, and only 3 percent said they waste 10 hours or more doing unrelated activities.” (Conner, 2012). This survey shows that this lack of productivity has become a huge deterrent to social learning, and has forced companies to evaluate and implement a social media policy in their workplace.
The first ethical dilemma occurs when employees are using social media and related tools is that spending too much time on non-work related things. As seen above, a majority of employees admitted to wasting time at work via social media. All employees know and understand that while at work their time is supposed to be devoted to working on business related things, but unfortunately the majority of employees do not follow what they know they should be doing. Social media tools can be great sources of social learning for employees but only when used correctly and ethically.
The second dilemma occurs when employees either knowingly or unknowingly share sensitive information outside of the company. As people are posting about their lives on social media sometimes people will share more information than is meant to be shared. There are too many examples of employees and companies getting in trouble because someone inside an organization leaked or shared information that was not meant for public consumption.
References Yupangco, J., & Levy, S. (2008). Overcoming the Challenges of Social Learning in the Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/85/overcoming-the-challenges-of-social-learning-in-the-workplace
Social learning allows businesses to address problems that arise quicker as they will learn about these issues quicker enabling them to be addressed. When employees are sharing information and reporting issues then the developers of products are able to know about the problem and then address it before it spirals out of control. Social learning also allows employees to share solutions to problems instantly and uniformly.
Employees are made aware of issues and solutions enabling them to be more productive at their assigned jobs. “When business problem arises, social learning provides the capability to “move services, assets, and guidance closer to where they are needed to people seeking answers, solving problems, overcoming uncertainty, and improving how they work.” (Bingham, 2010).
Effective use of social learning has the ability to change employee’s perception of social learning as a whole and their business culture. Once employees are able to see how social learning tools are able to allow for freely sharing of information then the employees will begin to appreciate these tools. Tools such as Cisco Jabber allow instant messaging to enable employees to receive needed information instantly whether the other person is busy or in a different office or state. Having this ability helps to be able to improve morale and foster a sense of community among employees.
Another effect of social learning is that it allows employees to interact with and begin to understand and appreciate people in different departments. These tools allow customer service to work hand and hand with sales allowing both groups to connect and establish rapport and a sense of community. Most times different departments are so busy working that they do not have a chance of getting to know each other. As the individuals begin to share information they begin to understand and appreciate each other on a new level.
Formal training requires a set date, time, and place for training to occur whereas social learning can take place instantly regardless of time or place. Formal training lays the foundation of learning and knowledge in an organization. Social learning continues the work of building knowledge on day to day basis. Formal training requires a subject matter expert or trainer to provide the training and materials as it is a deeper level of training.
One of the key benefits of social learning is that all employees have the freedom and ability to share what they have learned with other employees in the organization. Learning does not end for companies or employees so they require the use of both formal training and social learning to build upon each other and to educate and sustain the knowledge of employees. “The more confident a learner you become, the more you will seek out learning opportunities and ways in which you can share ideas with other learners.” ("The Difference between Formal and Informal Learning", 2015).
References Bingham, T. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database The Difference between Formal and Informal Learning. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/the-difference-between-formal-and- informal-learning/
Social Learning Contributes to the bottom line.
As many know funding for professional development is often the first to be cut in large organizations. However, this move is most always counterproductive to the company. Organizations should always be looking for new ways to help employees learn and grow through different professional development opportunities. Some of the benefits of professional development are: Increase the collective knowledge of your team Make employees feel satisfied Enhance your company’s reputation Attract more qualified candidates Bolster your retention strategy Make succession planning easier (Half, 2015, p. 1). Globally recognized talent management expert Meghan Biro believes social learning communities transforms culture and leadership within organizations. Biro has a belief that community, more than any other factor, will “transform the role of leaders and influence the development of workplaces (Biro, 2012, p. 1). Biro encourages corporate leadership to get on board with online social learning communities and to sponsor them in their organizations and to, “Learn again, yourself, what it means to learn, and bring the whole organization with you” (Biro, 2012, p. 1). Many organizations view knowledge as power. However, hoarding information and knowledge might not be the best course of action for those in power. Author Jane Bozarth explains, “Helping organizations view knowledge as belonging to the collective good, rather than as proprietary pieces of data, and encouraging movement toward a culture of sharing will benefit you, training, and the organization” (Bozarth, 2010, p. 143). Social learning allows employees to share knowledge and resources and not rely on top down information.
Social Learning Can be Measured
Organizations invest time and money in social learning for a wide range of reasons. By implementing new social learning platforms leaders hope to, “increase the amount and quality of knowledge sharing across the organization so that people can make better decisions, and to create an atmosphere where people build trust, increasing their desire to do good work” (Bingham & Conner, 2015, p. 325). However, most leaders want to know how the new learning approach will contribute to the bottom line. Some might argue that it is impossible to assess social learning and that one can quantify the people factor in an organization. However, they wrong. Network-oriented web analytics can capture how social learning tools are used and are a great way to assess success. A great place to start is to assess initiative, how many people are logging in. What good is a tool if no one is using it? Persistence: how many people came back to the site? Return users means that they find value in the site. Connection: how has the network expanded? Is the site continuing to grow? Are employees contributing to the site? Last, technology transition: are fewer documents sent across email) (Bingham, 2010). Are employees going to the site to find answers to questions, forms, and resources or do they continue to emailing others? These four things are a good way to start assessing any social learning platform.
Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2015). The new social learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work. (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ATD Press. Biro, M. M. (2012). 5 ways social learning communities transform culture and leadership. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2012/11/25/5-ways-social-learning-communities- transform-culture-and-leadership/ Bozarth, J. (2010). Social media for trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database Half, R. (2015). 6 ways professional development training benefits your entire organization. Retrieved from http://www.roberthalf.com/blog/6-ways-professional-development-training-benefits- your-entire-organization
Critics to new social learning platforms will come up will all sorts of excuses such as employees will post inappropriate things, employees will post incorrect things, and it cannot be governed. Someone should inform these critics that organizations such as the CIA, Wells Fargo, and the Mayo Clinic utilize social media even though their data is highly sensitive (Bingham, 2010). Used correctly social media can have a great benefit on an organization. However, if not managed well it can create legal, financial, and personal risks. Before the start of any social learning platform using social media is in place an accountability and usage policy. An effective social networking policy generally does the following: Defines what the organization means when it refers to “social networking.” Establishes a clear and defined purpose for the policy. Communicates benefits of social networking and of having a policy. Provides a clear platform for educating employees. Takes into consideration any legal consequences of not following laws. Refers to proprietary and confidential information at risk. Talks about productivity in terms of social networking. Establishes expected behavioral norms in the use of social networking. Provides guidance regarding social networking that could be associated with the organization, employees or customers. Some employers may prohibit posting of company information on social networking sites without the employer’s explicit consent. Outlines disciplinary measures the employer will take if employees violate social media policy (SHRM, 2012, p. 1).
References SHRM. (2012). Managing and leveraging workplace use of social media. Retrieved from http://www.shrm.org/templatestools/toolkits/pages/managingsocialmedia.aspx
Fostering Relationships through Social Learning
People have always been social creatures even from the very beginning. We are naturally driven to share, communicate, and to learn from each other. With the advances of technology we are witnessing, “A dramatic increase in our collective thinking, collaboration, and capacity to grow” (Bozarth, 2010, p. 12). Social media is bringing people together to share, collaborate, build knowledge, network, and create social learning networks (Bartlett-Bragg, 2009). Social learning is often about collaboration between employees in a different geographical locations. Collaborating with others in a meaningful way helps employees feel good about themselves and what they do. Employees can share in the experiences of other employees and feel needed. Collaboration often builds a strong sense of team even if the team is a world apart. Employees are more likely to “stay at a job or company longer when they have strong bonds with others around them and feel they are a part of something important” (Hill, 2015, p. 1)
References Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2009). Reframing practice: Creating social learning networks. Development and Learning in Organizations, 23(4), 16-20. http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1108/14777280910970747 Bozarth, J. (2010). Social media for trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database Hill, A. (2015). What is collaboration in the workplace? . Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-collaboration-in-the-workplace-definition-benefits-examples.html
References Bozarth, J. (2010). Social media for trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database
One of the best social learning tools is YouTube. This website has thousands of videos covering a wide array of topics and interests. YouTube also allows the trainer to create their own channel where past and future training videos can be uploaded and seen by new and old employees alike. This ability allows the trainer and organization to record trainings and be able to show them time and again saving lots of time and money. The website can also be access via any smart phone so now the training is also mobile. This allows employees to stay up to date with new information and products and do so at a convenient time.
Cisco Jabber is a great tool that works with the Cisco phones that can be found in any office across the country. This tool provides voice and video calling and messaging. One of the key features of this tool is that it also provides instant messaging with others in the organization. This speeds up the sharing of knowledge instead of having to call or email a boss, supervisor or co-worker. The answer too many daily questions can be found in an instant even if the other person is busy on a phone call. This amazing feature saves time and frustration. Another great benefit is that this tool can be used not just on a Windows PC or a Mac, but also on any Android or iPhone smart phone. Now the user can reach others to get needed information whether that person is in the office or not.
Self-guided Social Media Training Manual
By Kelly Proffer and Richard Patterson
Dr. Sean Spear
August 29, 2015
According to author Tony Bingham, the new social learning is a “Powerful approach to
sharing and discovering a whole array of options…leading to more informed decision
making and a more intimate, expansive, and dynamic understanding of the culture and
context in which we work”(Bingham, 2010, p. 6). In today’s work environment employees
tend to learn more from each other than they do in a traditional classroom setting. However,
many times employees are located at different geological locations and face-to-face
communication is not always possible. Social media allows for interactive social learning to
take place between employees no matter where they are located throughout the world.
Over the last 10 years, TeamC, Inc. has become a global organization with employees not
only across the country, but across the world. This has created a logistical and
demographic challenge for the training and development department to offer professional
development opportunities to all employees. Together with senior administration T&D
decided to launch a new social learning platform. The goal is to allow employees to benefit
from the vast knowledge and experience of the workforce to continue to grow in their
positions and to increase job satisfaction.
• Social Learning
• Issues with Social Learning in the Workplace
• Problem Solving Through Social Learning
• Addressing Business Issues and Strengthening Relationships
• Social Media Tools
Social media and social learning
are part of everyday life
Allows for free sharing of
information between employees
Builds community in organization
Keeps organization in touch with
customers and their needs
Importance of Social Learning Role of Social Learning in Training
Social learning is a “Powerful approach to sharing and discovering a whole array of
options…leading to more informed decision making and a more intimate, expansive, and dynamic
understanding of the culture and context in which we work”(Bingham, 2010, p. 6).
Social learning is a complement to
traditional classroom training
Employees able to access training
sessions and materials outside of
classroom – saves time and money
Employees able to share
information empowering all
employees with knowledge needed
Individual Perceptions of Social
Fears about lack of confidentiality of
company privacy and information
Lack of productivity by employees
who are spending too much time in
Barriers to Effective Social Learning Ethical Dilemmas in Social Learning
Spending company time and
resources on social media or other
not related work material
Sharing sensitive and private
company information outside of an
organization whether intentional or
Role of Social Learning in Addressing Business Problems
Allows for the sharing of information between employees regardless of department or location
Solutions to problems can be shared easily and instantly
Employees able to collaborate to discuss different ideas and solutions in regards to business problem
Affect of Social Learning on Employee’s Perception
Sharing of information builds community and togetherness among employees
Employees able to interact because of social learning and gain new insights about other departments
Problem Solving Processes of Social Learning vs. Formal Training
Formal training requires set time and place / Social learning happens regardless of time and place
Formal training lays foundation of knowledge in organization / Social learning continues building
knowledge on day to day basis
Formal training and social learning rely on each other to build and sustain knowledge of employees
Social Learning Contributes to the
Increase the collective knowledge of
Make employees feel satisfied
Enhance your company’s reputation
Attract more qualified candidates
Bolster your retention strategy
Make succession planning easier
traditional hierarchies more blurred
creating a culture of sharing
Social Learning Can be Measured
Initiative – How many people logged in
Persistence – How many people came
back, presumably because they found
Connection – how the network
Technology transition – fewer
documents sent across email
Exercise good judgment and common sense.
Pause before posting.
Not allow social networking to interrupt productivity.
Be mindful of their privacy settings.
Refrain from anonymity.
Be polite and responsible.
Be accountable and correct mistakes.
Use disclaimers or speak in the first person to make it clear the opinions expressed are not those of
Bring work-related complaints to HR, not through postings on social media sites or the Internet.
Remember the audience and that what is being said might create a perception about the employer
We are naturally driven to share,
communicate, and to learn from each
other. Social Learning is bringing
people together to share, collaborate,
build knowledge, network, and create
social learning networks.
Retrieved on 8/29/2015 from http://www.bluekiwi-software.com
A Wiki is an interactive web page on
which everyone with access can change
Wikis are easy to use online spaces for
collaboration, sharing knowledge and
building databases or libraries.
Wikis are great for collaborative work
and is an awesome tool to use
especially if employees are not in the
A wiki can be a one stop shop of
information for employees needing
information to do their jobs better.
Facebook is a single - login site that aggregates
many forms of social media, such as messages,
photos, videos, events, discussions, and links.
Facebook is a one-stop-shop that would allow
employees to interact with each other.
Facebook is good for staying in frequent contact
and helps the instructor, training department, or
organization build a sense of community
Facebook is a great place to create learning
communities after a formal training is over.
Learners can engage and share with other training
graduates or employees.
Facebook is also a great place to encourage
discussion or post important updates.
Retrieved on 8/229/2015 from turkeltalk.com
What is YouTube
YouTube is a website that contains thousands
of videos covering a wide array of topics and
Benefits of using YouTube in the workplace
Record classroom trainings and meetings
Employees can access recordings 24/7
Accessible via laptop, tablet, or smart
What is Cisco Jabber
Cisco Jabber is a software tool that works with Cisco
phones to provide voice and video calling as well as
• Soft phone ability to make calls from PC or tablet
• Instant message anyone in company
• Accessible via laptop, tablet, or smart phone
References and Recommended Reading
Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2009). Reframing practice: Creating social learning networks. Development and Learning in Organizations, 23(4), 16-20.
Bingham, T. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database
Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2015). The new social learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work. (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.
Biro, M. M. (2012). 5 ways social learning communities transform culture and leadership. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2012/11/25/5-
Borstnar, M. (2012). Towards understanding collaborative learning in the social media environment. Organizacija, 45(3), 100-107.
Bozarth, J. (2010). Social media for trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning (1st ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection
Chatzicharalampous, K. (2014). The role of social media in higher education, the use of social media as a communicative agent and their subsequent effects to the
learning process of students. International Journal of Knowledge Society Research (IJKSR), 5(2), 58-69. http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/ijksr.2014040106
Ford, W. (2013). YouTube for Business: Top Ten Strategies & Best Practice. Retrieved from https://blog.udemy.com/youtube-for-business/
Half, R. (2015). 6 ways professional development training benefits your entire organization. Retrieved from http://www.roberthalf.com/blog/6-ways-professional-
Hill, A. (2015). What is collaboration in the workplace? . Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-collaboration-in-the-workplace-definition-
LaComb, B. (2013). Best Practices for Purposeful Social Learning. Retrieved from http://www.riversoftware.com/helpful-resources/blog/item/297-best-practices- for-
Merrick, L. (n.d.). How coaching & mentoring can drive success in your organization. Retrieved from
Moskaliuk, J., & Kimmerle, J. (2009). Using wikis for organizational learning: functional and psycho-social principles. Development and Learning in Organizations: An
International Journal, 23(4), 21-24. http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14777280910970756
Pappas, C. (2013). 28 eLearning tips for social learning. Retrieved from http://elearningindustry.com/28-elearning-tips-for-social-learning
Privat, G. (2014). The Adobe Connect Blog. Retrieved from http://blogs.adobe.com/adobeconnect/2014/05/make-learning-a-social-and-mobile-experience-i
SHRM. (2012). Managing and leveraging workplace use of social media. Retrieved from
The Difference between Formal and Informal Learning. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/the-difference-between-formal-and-
Wentworth, D. (2014). 5 Trends for the Future of Learning and Development. Retrieved from http://www.trainingmag.com/5-trends-future-learning-and-
Yupangco, J., & Levy, S. (2008). Overcoming the Challenges of Social Learning in the Workplace. Retrieved from