Social Learning

Training is key to leveraging social media for building brand value!

If you take it at face value that leadership is influence, then you best be influencing your employees use of social media before you are influenced by it in ways you may or may not like. As an HR professional, were trained to manage and mitigate the risks of our employees’ actions to our organizations. For many this has led to the knee-jerk reaction of banning social media in the workplace altogether, as if we were some rogue dictatorship of a country like Syria or Cuba. Yet as the Turkish prime minister has recently discovered, blocking your people’s access to social media is about as futile as attempting to prevent a flood by covering the cracks in your dam with your hands.

More forward thinking organizations are coming to this realization sooner than their less progressive counterparts, and are taking the social media bull by the horns. MasterCard is an example, is one such organization. And at the heart of their strategy, what I would consider a major factor in their successful adoption of social media as an organization is training. This piece by Jeanne Meister highlights some of the steps the company has taken in recent years to actively influence their employees use of social media, and turn them into brand ambassadors.

Many of the steps the company is taking such as building a training and communications plan, posting in person social media training sessions at offices around the globe, distributing short educational videos via social media channels, and using reverse mentors (where younger millennial generation employees mentor older senior executives) to get them up to speed on the latest social media platforms and trends are all training and organizational development strategies we can all implement and utilize to lead similar efforts ourselves.

I would go as far as to tell you that not only can you turn your employees into brand ambassadors using some of these techniques, but go beyond and convert your best customers into brand ambassadors leveraging some of these strategies and tactics. Engage your employees, your investors and owners, and your customer base. Encourage your customers to post pictures and videos of themselves using and enjoying your products. Have your communications and marketing teams reach out to these customers, and get the stories behind their pictures and videos; these customers are telling the story of your brand- get their permission to highlight their excitement and enjoyment when using your products and services on your site. Bring attention to their efforts, and turn them from fans of your products and services to ambassadors!

There are just two roads you can travel to success in today’s digital and socially connected business climate. You can either lead with social media, or be led by it. 

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Enable Social Learning just like Zappos

If I had a dollar every time someone asks me to give them an example of social learning, I’d be a… (insert your favorite pile of money phrase here) -ionnaire.  You know the old saying.  The term itself has become very muddled from its roots back in the days of Vygotsky and Bandura, with visions of today’s web 2.0 and social networking technologies.  Let’s get something straight here, once and for all-

Put your instructional design or performance management toolbox away here.  You’re not going to be designing any social learning today.  Social learning happens mostly serendipitously, and not be design.  Look for employees learning from one another, from a customer, or from some resource outside of your organization.  Yes, that’s right, from OUTSIDE of your organization.  Believe it or not, your networked employees are learning all the time from within and from outside of your organization.  Take it from one of this decade’s most innovative and forward thinking CEO’s,  Tony Hsieh from Zappos―

“Hsieh’s biggest bet is that Zappos has more to learn from smart people outside the company than inside it.”

That’s right, one of Tony’s biggest bets going forward is squarely on what we endearingly call― Social Learning.

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

 

Social learning can energize your Employee Wellness Plan

Many trainers and instructional designers operate under the umbrella of a human resources team, and as such should always be looking to support HR initiatives.  One initiative that is growing in popularity as companies look for ways to reduce the costs of health insurance for their workforce are employee wellness plans.  How can you contribute to an employee wellness plan in a meaningful, measurable way?

social learning and your employee wellness program

One idea by John Andrews and Ted Rubin I recently came across can really have a huge impact not only on your company’s bottom-line, but in your employees’ (i.e. customers) waistlines.  Here’s the thought, Nike has gamified fitness with its Nike+ Fuel Band, Nike+ Connect and accompanying iPhone app (Android app coming soon)- why don’t you set up a little friendly competition in your workplace with badges or prizes for your customers reaching fitness milestones?  The milestones could be as simple as number of pounds lost, inches off the waistline, or simply consecutive days meeting a fitness goal.  You could even have teams within your company competing for prizes.  Also, don’t limit yourself to Nike’s product line if your company is more of an Android shop.   There are competing products already on the market such as fitbit, JAWBONE’s Up product, LarkLife, Amiigo, and other activity tracking wearables are entering this space as well. 

Yes, this initiative will require an initial investment in your employees but it pales in comparison to the social learning that will take place once your employees’ are more aware of the impact of their daily habits.  Measured properly, you may even be able to track cost savings in conjunction with your group benefits coordinator on the HR team.  This is a really powerful social learning strategy which can pay big dividends to your company and you should seriously consider bring it up at your next human resources meeting. 

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Are you fluent in Wiki yet?

Wikis are one of the most underutilized tools in the instructional designer's toolbox. As trainers, it is imperative that we engage the learner beyond the classroom in order to effect real, permanent, and quantifiable changes in behavior. Yet, often times I find designers and trainers unwilling to engage their audiences beyond the classroom with this tool. Several reasons for this exist.

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Firstly, some training teams lament they are constrained by IT policies not conducive to collaborative tools. Some training managers have even asked,"

Can I implement a wiki bypassing IT altogether?" While the answer is yes, you can go with a SaaS vendor and be up and running in under ten minutes, it is advisable to not bypass your IT team and instead model the collaborative spirit you want to see in your workforce. You must be the change you want to see in the world, even if you sometimes feel like strangling your IT people.

Secondly, trainers and designers often lack knowledge of the power, flexibility, and ease of use of today's wiki software. Sure, we've all performed research on Wikipedia, but few designers and trainers have experimented with open-source wiki technology. As performance engineers and learning strategists, we must tinker with the latest tech and evaluate its utility for our learning systems. Failure to do so ensures we miss out on opportunities for our learners, as well as for our own development and understanding of the many ways technology is changing the training landscape. For far less money than many training teams spend on over-hyped learning management systems, it's time we spend a fraction of that budget on tailoring a wiki to engage learners and to supplement our training efforts outside of formal training events.

Finally, there are fears and misunderstandings of this technology. The main fear is of the unknown. While most people have used Wikipedia, it is but one example and not an ordinary example of what wiki technology is capable of. Yet, since it is the most common reference point for most people, many mistakenly draw conclusions about the technology from this vantage point. Fears of this technology range from how it can be used to support a community, to the cultural effects on the organization from having such an open and transparent technology available to all. Having a wiki in and by itself does not a collaborative culture make, and without content worth maintaining or people who care to maintain it no wiki in the world can grow and flourish.

The capacity to build and engage a community of learners is one which I believe will be essential to your relevance as an instructional designer, teacher, or trainer. In fact, “social learning” was already added to one of the nine existing Areas of Expertise in the ASTD Competency Model (middle tier). You can begin increasing your fluency with wikis as a social learning technology by downloading and experimenting with Tiddlywiki, one of the many open-source wiki platforms available. Tiddlywiki is a wonderful personal notebook you can use to familiarize yourself with the technology before moving to larger and more complex systems. Simply download it, save it to a place in your computer, and create a shortcut to it from your browser so that you can access it readily whenever you want to make a note.

I suggest you get started on building this competency and adding it to your repertoire sooner rather than later. As always, please don’t hesitate to write if you need help or have a question, we’re here to help you succeed! Would love your comments on Tiddlywki, or on your own use of wiki technology at your organization below- regardless of platform .


Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Training today. It's just different.

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Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine- or so the saying goes. But the more things change the more they stay the same. It’s a matter of perspective. When I was a child my father worked for IBM. They had a dress code that was more like a uniform. It included a blue pinstripe suit, white shirt, and wingtip shoes. IBM was a post war company that besides revolutionizing the PC industry- developed some innovative HR practices in their day. They no longer have the strict dress code. They still have one, albeit arguably it’s just different. Today’s trends in learning are centered around social learning and media, web 2.0 technologies, the latest and greatest Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and authoring tools… But at the core of the conversation remains employee development, albeit arguably it’s just different. There remains the need for the application of sound instructional design and use of adult learning principles. Everything else is just the suit we wrap it in. In past years we wrapped training in the more formal blue pin stripe suit and wingtips. It was defined, it was a more formal event and we accessorized it accordingly. Today’s learner arrives with different expectations shaped by an upbringing influenced by the internet, mobile technology, Facebook, Wikipedia, and a host of other technologies that have accelerated the speed of business. They expect everything quicker and are far better at multitasking. So as professionals we have to speak to their needs and strengths.

Over the last two decades training has migrated from a formal classroom environment to elearning. There are two big causes for this; First is cost, I can develop an elearning course once and deliver it to thousands. Classroom training and its associated costs like travel, a physical venue, and room capacity is much more expensive to deliver to thousands. Then, when you factor in the remote workers formal training becomes prohibitively expensive to implement.

Regardless of the training methodology you predominantly use, your employees do train each other.  They also learn from others in the industry, they learn and improve upon their jobs all the time.

In a recent post from  CMS Wire, Deb Lavoy pointed out:

"Social Business" is not about technology, or about "corporate culture." It is a sociopolitical historical shift that is bigger, broader and much more fascinating.

Social Business is not about technology, or corporate culture…it’s about people doing what comes naturally to them. Learning from one another, and teaching one another.  That’s how humans are wired to pass on information.


-Steven Hornak

Steven is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Steven can be reached at             305-791-1764      , steve@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter @smhornak.-