Social learning has been an area of real interest for me in the last two years. I've encountered Harold Jarche's ideas a great deal in that time through his blog and the Social Learning Centre, so it was great to finally see him run a live talk and actually speak to him afterwards.
We normally find that social learning is dismissed as something that is hard to measure and intangible. Yet increasingly it is the intangibles that make up the real value of our businesses, so let's challenge that assumption, and think about how social learning can fit with organisational goals. Most of the learning strategies we already use, such as ADDIE and ISD, come from the military, where they also know the value of training people in a social environment - individual members aren't effective unless they are trained to work together, and share their knowledge.
Meanwhile, back in the business, we often find that sharing of knowledge can border on career suicide, because we reward the wrong behaviours. Whilst this may sound like an unbreakable deadlock, the tide is turning as we move away from standardised work and rely on creativity and innovation. You can't automate these things, only encourage them through a culture of openness and sharing. Harold has been a great advocate of these approaches, especially through his 'Seek-Sense-Share' model in the building of online communities, an area that I have been exploring in depth lately.
Some of the problems with organisational learning, and our education system in general, stem from our acceptance of the printed word and the linear thinking that it instils in us. This tends to reinforce a hierarchical organisation, that we need to combat by encouraging real learning skills within our organisation, such as Personal Knowledge Management.
I'm becoming ever more keen on this approach, although I have encountered some of the problems associated with working across silos, and resistance to different ways of learning. Seeing Harold's talk has given me some fresh enthusiasm for keeping up the battle!
See also: Learning & Skills Conference 2013 curated backchannel resources.