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Social Learning - Playing Guinea Pig

Recently I started a self-motivated experiment. As I am about to implement what I call "Learning Experience" - and what in fact is a huge change initiative to change the company's learning culture - I thought I should grab the chance that Jane Hart (see my blogroll) gave me and attend a two-week workshop on her "Social Learning Centre". The workshop is run by Harold Jarche and the title is "From Training to Performance to Social".

The concpet of this workshop: "In this workshop there are 6 (web-based) assignments (3 each week)  that provide an introduction to the topic with links to additional reading (if desired), as well as individual activities and a group discussion. "

Attending this workshop was very inspiring and I took away 4 main learnings:

  • Stick to the simplest instructional design you can think of. Participants have to read blog entries of the facilitator's blog and comment on his ideas and inputs. They can - if they want - share their own ideas too, which is called 'narrating' their own experience. That's it.
  • Do not bother to define learning goals. When I asked Harold, our facilitator, about the learning goals and the instructional idea behind the chosen approach, he pointed me to the marketing slide where it says "In this workshop there are 6 (web-based) assignments (3 each week)  that provide an introduction to the topic with links to additional reading (if desired), as well as individual activities and a group discussion." This is not a learning goal, it is the concept and that should suffice.
  • Do not get engaged in discussions with your participants. When I asked the question about the goals in the group - and if we could discuss and share our ideas and motivation to attend this workshop - I was told off in public by both Jane, the owner of the platform, and Harold, the facilitator of this workshop. They reminded me to just read the input and stick to the assignments.
  • No social skills required in a virtual environment. Because I felt bad, having been told off in public, I wrote a private message to Jane Hart, asking her why she reacted like this. Her answer was: "We try to address all learner needs but this is a simple, and very cheap workshop based on a model that tries to encourage written participation."

This approach seems to be very successful, as Harold points out in this article: http://internettimealliance.com/wp/2012/07/10/training-performance-social-workshop-notes/

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