GuestBlog: Social Learning through Social Media
One of the delights and benefits of social networking for me has been the amazing people I have connected with. I first linked with Euan when reviewing the excellent http://www.iriss.org.uk/ website. Their recent report Social media in social services confirms my own thinking and research about the issues associated with unblocking access to social media in social services. Thanks Euan for contributing your thoughts and helping people understand the potential of social learning though social media - two hot topics for local government!
So why bother with social media? Isn’t it just vanity publishing or time wasting teenagers? Maybe. It can be both of those. But it can also be one of the most powerful ways to understand what we do and why, learn as we go, and share what we learn with others. In fact social media is, in many ways, all about learning.
Learning what is interesting, learning what works and what doesn’t, and learning who knows what they are talking about – and who doesn’t! Take one the simplest and earliest forms of social media, blogging. Starting to blog about your job is a simple and inexpensive way to improve both your own and your organisation’s learning. Even if no one ever read your blog having the reason to think about what you do, and why, is immensely valuable. Sitting down at the end of the day to spend five minutes reflecting on what happened, and what you have learned from it, can make you much more aware of what is most important in your day’s work. Publishing that thought as a blog post then makes your insights available to others who might agree, disagree, or, in the comments on your blog post, develop and refine your insights.
This is learning at its best. Learning as you experience things through thoughtful observation and shared understanding. It is also social learning. Building a network of other blogging professionals gives you access not only to their accumulated experience but also to the possibility of building powerful business relationships. Many of those whose blogs you read may be in other organisations, or even in others remote parts of your own organisation, and your ability to connect and form relationships with these others may be severely limited in the “real” world. Reading each others experiences and insights on your blogs is a remarkably powerful way of connecting and establishing shared experience.
Once you have this online network of trusted fellow professionals really interesting patterns will begin to form in what you each find interesting enough to spend the time blogging about. These patterns themselves represent another level of learning, organisational learning. What do we as an organisation find important or challenging and what are we doing about it? Unlike static, stored, documentation, the networked, conversational style of blogs gives a more effective overview of what is currently most interesting to your organisation.
The best thing about social tools is that they are easy to get started with and can be very inexpensive. Each individual can have a go at blogging, or at the very least reading blogs, and with a little patience and confidence begin to open up this amazing opportunity for individual and collective learning.
About the author: Ten years ago, while working in a senior position at the BBC, Euan Semple was one of the first to introduce what have since become known as social media tools into a large, successful organisation. He has subsequently had four years of unparalleled experience working with organisations such as Nokia, The World Bank and NATO helping them learn how to make the most of this wired-up world of work. Euan is highly connected to some of the most influential movers and shakers of this new environment and his workshops have already been experienced by many diverse audiences worldwide.
Contact Details: http://www.euansemple.com/