Social Learning: Survey Says – It’s happening!

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Last month, Ron Chapman suggested that eLearning was just a passing fad. This created much furore, and several learning and training experts refuted his claim.

If you’re wondering the same about Social Learning, a recent survey by The MASIE Center gives some concrete answers.

The survey shows that Social Learning is very much happening. There are real people and companies who are already using it and many more who are open to having it as a part of their organizational learning delivery systems. The survey results – with 1069 responses (a decent sample size) – should be considered reasonably inline with today’s reality and a good indication of things to come.

There are 2 key results here:

1. It is not a fad.
A huge 62% of respondents have said that Social Learning has ‘some value’ or ‘high value’ within their organization, while only 18% felt it had ‘low’ or ‘no value’. To back that up, 77% of the global learning professionals polled disagreed with the proposition that ‘Social learning is a “learning fad”.’ Even though Elliott Masie admits “the survey is self selecting”, this is still a very high proportion in favor of Social Learning.

2. The biggest challenge is culture.
In rating the different barriers to Social Learning’s adoption, ‘organizational culture’ has been identified to be the biggest barrier, with ‘generational culture’ as the third-biggest barrier. And as the survey points out, getting Social Learning to work will also require coordination with IT, HR, and Legal functions.

Even though informal ‘water cooler’ learning has existed for years, it is only now that Social Learning—backed by potent technology—is becoming a stronger and more recognized and accepted means of learning. As the use of social media in day-to-day life becomes commonplace, the next workforce generation will effect a splash of cultural change within organizations. In fact, it’s already happening, and those who are unaware of the latest social technologies may find themselves sidelined.

So far, so good! It would be interesting to see the results of a similar survey 6 to 12 months from now.

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