Part 2: Creating an Addictive Social Learning Environment

Part 2: Creating an Addictive Social Learning Environment

In Part 1 of this series on creating the social learning workplace, I defined social learning and social media, and set you on your way to choosing the tools. I’m assuming you’re reading this post because you’ve decided that social learning is a good idea for you and your organization.

It isn’t enough to create a social learning environment. To make it valuable, you’ve got to get your users hooked on great learning opportunities, valuable content and fun conversation. Here’s how to get started.

Kick Your Social Learning Network Off With a Bang

Start the network wholeheartedly by ensuring that your colleagues discover a vital and lively community, from the beginning. Your goal is to provide the same feeling of excitement for a first time visitor that we probably all had the first time we discovered our own personal learning networks on blogs, Twitter or wherever: “Wow! Look at all these people saying smart things and sharing expertise that’s relevant and useful to me!”

Your job, as the social learning environment creator and leader, is to promote high quality interactions and to use your leadership to judiciously reward and engage others. Let’s say you’re going to use Yammer in your workplace. Here’s how I would advise you to get started:

  • Pre-populate it with content, including links to videos, articles, blog posts, etc.
  • Bribe a pilot group to start some conversations and set a good tone before you do a widespread roll-out.
  • To the best of your ability, ensure that learners have time to participate in the learning environment.
  • Have a plan for connecting people who might not know each other. Make it someone’s job to introduce people to one another.
  • Have a plan for organizing and tagging content so that people can find what is relevant to them easily.
  • As a leader, listen! Do not let your opinion or perspective overtake your ability to facilitate constructive conversation.
  • Set the tone and the example for your community by being gracious, polite and welcoming. Sumeet Moghe recently shared a post on a negative community experience he had. Don’t be that moderator.
  • Share useful resources. Repost/retweet/republish often (with permission when appropriate).
  • Tag people in posts to ask them to answer a specific question or conversation.
  • As time passes, figure out who your “power users” are. Give them more responsibility, as a “moderator” or “connector”.
  • Figure out who your least engaged colleagues are and target them for encouragement.
  • Delete posts with extreme caution. You will develop maximum credibility and set the best example for your community by responding professionally to any inappropriate content or behavior.

Please share your tips in the comments!

Image Credit: Polygon Homes on Flickr