Monday, July 14, 2008

# 1 - Deepening Social Learning to Work Performance - Proposed Model

Series # 1 - Can we use formal learning structure as a framework in implementing Learning 2.0?

One of the most challenging issues in implementing a new method, tool or way of thinking is how to replace the prior behaviors and thinking.

In implementing Learning 2.0 (Social networking in learning) I encounter the usual problems I experienced in implementing traditional e-Learning and
webinars. Trainers, participants, managers, and leaders follow long-standing, existing and embedded workflows - in this case, how to deliver training and learning. They are emotionally vested and are wrapped around the inertia of implementing current paradigms. Consequently, e-Learning and webinars do appear, and are like extensions of the traditional paradigms.

(View the framework)

Essentially, the traditional paradigm is that of a formal and structured training and learning structure:

1. State objectives
2. Deliver content
3. Practice and apply
4. Evaluate and assess

I am taking a different approach in launching (early phase of implementation) social learning.

Instead of
outrightly dismissing the formal structure as old and antiquated and having no place in Learning 2.0, might it be possible that the formal structure can serve as a social learning model but with an added element - the element of a deepening process?

In this model, I use many elements from formal structure, e.g. time-element, beginning and ending, and trainer as facilitator and networking weaver. However, I added a deepening process by using social learning methods and moving the process further. The deepening process means moving the learning experience in three phases: social learning, collaborative learning and application and performance.

As an initial implementation, usually an educational effort, this strategy works -- using formal structures in training learners on the methods of social learning. A big condition, however, is that the approach must move beyond the socialization phase into collaboration and application for performance.

Please view the schematic.

I have been using the framework and model in launching social learning projects, in my limited experiments. I also use the framework to inform and educate clients, participants, trainers and facilitators, managers and leaders on how to "deepen" the social learning process.

So far the framework suits my purpose. At least I feel I am following a repeatable process. Early results suggest the model has some value, and I suspect these are the reasons.
  1. It is time specific, with formal start and ending, but participants may go beyond
  2. Trainers and facilitators are at ease because the approach "seems familiar"
  3. Focusing the social learning on applications and performance provides focus
  4. Along the process, participants become familiar and learn the skills of posting comments, starting a discussion, sharing media or objects. This behavior happens in phase I.
  5. With tools and widgets that enhance collaboration, application and tracking of performance, participants are able to pay attention to the application of an idea, a project, and some specific outcomes. This starts to appear in Phase II and then Phase III.
    There is a small number of participants who voluntarily move to phase III. The rest have to be prodded.
  6. The trainer or facilitator (usually myself and co-facilitators) need the skill to allow the group to evolve while providing focus to move the dynamics from phase I to Phase III.
  7. I admit that there is an enormous role and burden on my side to facilitate the process. In the beginning I was uncomfortable that participants were not attuned to the "self-directed" and "open-learning" I hope to see in participants within Learning 2.0 environments. Eventually, though, most participants began to feel comfortable and started enjoying and appreciating the free flowing nature of the sessions. They discovered the value of Learning 2.0 but gradually experienced it in small "test-tube" or "lab" like fashion.
  8. Ultimately, what made the "deepening process" work is the focus on some form of end-result. Which helps me deal with my personal dilemma with "directionless" (lack of performance expectation) social learning initiatives. Much of my bias on applying goals and results come from a small study I made on Micro-Learning Impacts.
What is the main risk? The deepening process may end up just like another trainer-controlled session. The case of knowing and owning the truck, but not know deep enough how to shift gears for high-speeds.

What is the benefit? We introduce participants, leaders, trainers and managers to social learning in an environment which they find familiar - that is learning to focus on application results. I observe that many are weary of the "socialization" and "networking" phase of social learning.

My motivation in testing this framework is simple: there has got to be a way to leverage our participants and trainers' current mindsets and ease them, train them or lead them to appreciate Learning 2.0.

Please view the schematic. Kindly let me know of your thoughts.

Ray Jimenez, PhD

"Helping Learners Learn Their Way" "Helping Learners Apply Learning"