Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Groundswell Insights - WhyTrainers Often Say, "It Does Not Work"

I just finished reading Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.

Although it was written for business executives focused on marketing, customer relationship and business development and strategy, the parallels to the training and learning industry are abundant.

A few that struck me, and there are a lot more:

  • Design the social working approach based on users' "technoprofile" - the way people behave in social networking: creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, inactives.
  • Instead of using a "standard technology" like Blog, Wiki, or Media sharing, Li and Bernoff suggested that organizations must focus on the dominant way members participate. For example, if there is a preponderance of critics, maybe using the site as a rating site will be of more value.

The tendency in early adoptions of social networking in learning is the over emphasis on learners becoming active participants. Since Wikis, Blogs and discussions are abundant and tools easy to apply, trainers tend to emphasize the contributions of learners by postings and comments.

This is unfortunate because not all learners may wish or are ready to make comments or participate in discussions, and yet may be willing to do something else. The biggest downside is that, trainers basing on this early experience, tend to conclude that "social learning and networking" does not really work because learners seem not too excited in making comments. I have heard this moaning so many times.

To help trainers analyze their participants, sort of a "technoprofile", I developed a Framework to look at the types of learners. I divided them into an audience, actor, and creator based on their learning behaviors. In this framework, a trainer needs to adjust the social media and social learning to use. For example, if the learners tend to be more of an audience, providing Podcasts, videos, and ability to read small presentations may appeal more. Whereas micro-games and exercises may appeal more to actors. And for creators the Wiki and Blog may have higher value.

This is the thought I gathered from Groundswell: learners may express themselves depending on what is comfortable for them. The popular tools like Wiki and Blogs may not always be the best.

The Groundswell tells us that people participate differently, and we better listen or take a hard look at this, otherwise, our approach may go off tangent.

Ray Jimenez, PhD www.vignettestraining.com
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"


  1. Your model of how learners might behave is useful. But I have some issues with applying 'consumer' models to learning... see the post and its ongoing discussion at:

    Educators need better models for the use of Web 2.0 tools

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