Sunday, August 7, 2011

Two Years and Still Growing

Today is the second anniversary of the launch of Many Ways to Learn. I never thought there would be much interest in a blog about workplace learning, but here we are two years later. When I talk about my work among friends and family, everyone runs the other way. But this blog does have a modest following, and the connections I’ve made through it have been enriching both personally and professionally. Feedback indicates people are gaining something by reading it, which makes it worthwhile to continue.

Two years ago, I started writing this blog as part of a personal experiment. I was not using social media tools at all. As a learning professional, I felt it was important to understand these tools. I wanted to see if they held any promise for use alongside our formal learning offerings. I didn’t expect they would, but I was wrong. They certainly proved to hold promise. I slowly began to introduce them to my team members. I have a creative bunch so I wanted to see what ideas and suggestions they might come up with for usage in service to our learners. At the time, terms like informal learning, social learning, personal knowledge management, and content curator were not part of our day-to-day working vocabulary. I’m happy to say they are today. In November 2009 I really began seeing the possibilities. I wrote this blog entry: Web 2.0 Learning Shift to describe what I saw happening. Since then we have implemented a number of non-traditional learning solutions at my company to give our learners alternatives to classroom training or self-paced e-learning. Do we have all our learning opportunities embedded directly in the workstream? No, we don’t. Do we have more learning opportunities in the workstream than we did two years ago? I am proud to say yes, we do.

Here are a few more YES/NO situations to describe the current state of learning at my company.

YES – people are having workplace discussions and sharing resources though social media.

NO – not everyone in the company is on board.

YES – we have a formal social media policy.

NO – we don’t block people from using twitter or facebook at work.

YES - we do have our own internal social media network (through Yammer) available to employees worldwide.

NO – our senior leaders are not all active in our social media network.

YES - we do have online discussion groups and virtual meet-ups to promote learning.

NO - we can't measure what people are learning through these groups, but their discoveries are evident.
YES – we are conducting classes virtually.

NO – we are not using virtual reality tools like Second Life.

YES - our virtual classes are interactive discussions.

NO - our virtual classes are not passive PowerPoint webinars.

YES – we do have wiki-based tools and activities that allow learners to build off each other’s ideas.

NO – we don’t have control over what people post or the edits they make – but it has not been a problem.

YES – we have created learning environments in SharePoint to help our employees manage their learning experiences.

NO – they don’t all take to SharePoint like a duck takes to water.

YES – we do offer just-in-time access to workplace answers through our knowledge management system.

NO – we have not retired our learning management system.

YES – our employees are accessing (some) audio and video content through mobile devices.

NO – the mobile content does not mainly originate from the learning department.

YES – we do capture and share best practices through social media tools.

NO – our social media tools are not the most commonly used means of sharing best practices.

YES – we have increased our employees’ ability to learn through informal means.

NO – we haven’t stop designing and delivering Instructor-led classroom training.

YES – we develop a lot of rapid e-learning programs.

NO – our e-learning programs are not all award winners, but they don’t have to be to be effective.

The last two years have certainly been interesting. They have shown me there are indeed Many Ways to Learn. Through writing this blog and interacting with readers, I’ve discovered a lot and grown quite a bit as a learning professional. I’ve used what I have learned to help my department evolve and to help employees in my company be successful. I also hope this blog has led others to make a few discoveries. Thanks for reading.