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Rachel Matthews

Bray Leino

Strategic Marketing Manager

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How communities will take complete ownership of L&D


Gone are the days where learning and development professionals are the gatekeepers of knowledge. The changes in the business world and the organic introduction of social learning means that L&D needs to take on a more facilitative role, one that can create and support strong social communities.

Last week we hosted a collaborative event with Sea Salt Learning at our offices in Bristol. The event, ‘Learning in the Social Age’, took participants on an exploration of the latest developments of both social learning and learner engagement, and the challenges business leaders face to evolve the way they think about learning in the Social Age.

Anyone with an interest in Social Learning will know the name Julian Stodd. His fresh, innovative thinking has paved the way for the new way of learning in recent years, so it was a pleasure for us to work with him to deliver an introductory workshop to the topic.

Julian’s dynamic presenting style kept everyone on the edge of their seats while he talked about the way that business has changed, and how we have to adapt with it. He talked about the challenges that the Social Age has brought to business, and the opportunities that have come with it for learning and development.

With so many agile technologies available to us today, we are now able to build communities with individuals that we may not usually interact with. It allows us to contribute and curate content with like-minded people to create a new learning model.

Julian talked about how these technologies have created a social environment for us that we have never experienced before. He referred to an example of being part of an online community, via one of the many apps available, with people who share a mutual interest. You could be anywhere, in a coffee shop, a library, or walking down the street and these apps can tell you who from your community is in the local area. You could even be sat in the same place as someone who shares the same passions that you do.

This change in technology and openness to explore it means that we can now reach and engage with communities that may never have been accessible before. This is the same in the workplace. You may not have known what someone in a different department was interested in, or what information they are able to share. This is possible now. And learning and development needs to capitalise on this.

How many times have you asked the question, ‘Does anyone know how to….’? You may find that nobody who sits with you can answer the question, but by having a strong community in your organisation you can almost be sure that someone will be able to help. 

Our abilities to learn from one another in an informal, social environment, means that we are changing the landscape of learning. We’ve already seen this in the culture change in many organisations – people aren’t hungry for traditional learning; with the best will in the world it is being forced on them.

If L&D were to facilitate an online (or offline) community, surely they would see trends and issues faced regularly, enabling them to select the perfect learning journeys for their people?

When this starts to happen, and individuals feel comfortable seeking out more formal learning methods, confidence in both their community and their L&D department will naturally grow and people will take ownership of their development.

Author Profile Picture
Rachel Matthews

Strategic Marketing Manager

Read more from Rachel Matthews

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