Online Communities and Learning Professionals – must do better!

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

I was asked to provide a quote for the marvellous people over at Good Practice in conjunction with the fabulous people at Charity Learning Consortium.  These guys are professional peers and social friends and they live and breathe learning in an online capacity.  They have a lot of success and a lot of energy towards an area I’m keenly interested in and practice a lot.

The quote was in conjunction with some research undertaken into things like 70:20:10 and learning communities and it was around learning communities that I was quoted.

I wrote this in full response and there’s an extract here

My full “piece” went like this – and I guess overall I am still feeling a bit dismayed that our learning professional colleagues are still not making the most of online learning communities.  There’s “gold in them thar hills” is the phrase that springs to my mind but many of my professional counterparts aren’t even looking for the gold let alone taking their pickaxes to the rocks.

“There is clearly something good to continue with highlighted by this report, and more to begin doing based on this research and my view of the world of learning in the 21st century, hyper-connected, digitally-driven, incessant world we are in.

My favourite continue is to continue to believe in online communities and their powerful place in the world of professional and work-based learning & development.  I have had such good experiences and energy from online communities I firmly believe
it is a key part of not only online learning, but work and productive living in the future.  They supplement real-life connections / relationships and provide low-friction connection and keep-in-touch where all other attempts in the past (conference calls; email groups; video conferences etc) have failed.

Begin thoughts are to make more of online communities – deliberately and actively.  We are still very low on the uptake of using social tools if only a third of our profession utilise online communities and 14% encourage learners to share, collaborate and cultivate learning online with each other.  Think beyond LinkedIn groups too – they become quickly saturated, have a less-then-desirable User Experience/Interface and clog up rapidly.  Google+, Good Practice, Ning, Yammer, CIPD Community, DPG Community, Jive, Pinipa – all have great community features and slick UX/UI.

My concern is the lack of activism by learning professionals in this world equates to low take up or utilisation of this forum/medium/channel for learners.  How and why learning professionals ignore/leave out the online
community world is beyond me.  It’s like we’ve longed for this solution to take learning to new found occasional, constantly humming along levels yet we aren’t jumping in with gusto and energy.  Many learners are “out-learning / out-socialising” their learning professional counterparts and that is ominous as learning professionals continue to search for their sweet spots in this accessible world of insight.

So my urge is for learning professionals to dive into online communities for themselves.  Use that learning experience to then deliberately utilise them in your delivery mechanics and help your learners discover this endless well of information, connection and sense-making.  They also provide amazing data, rapid sharing, cries for help, supportive chats and collaborative innovation.

Online communities really are a key part of any learning model / strategy.  Let’s make them a default not an add-on.


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