Let's begin with some context to this post!
Like many of my blog posts the ideas come when two or more ideas collide in my head and I think, Mmm, that's interesting. Writing the blog post itself is one of the ways I get my thoughts in (some sort of) order.
Right now I'm reading an excellent book, The New Social Learning by Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham. Once I've finished the book I'll certainly write a comprehensive review. The book has again turned my mind towards the question of using social media tools to provide another channel for organisational learning.
As these thoughts were bouncing about my mind recalled a recent TED video of Sugata Mitra speaking on child-driven education. (You can watch it below)
A very interesting video but for me the interest here is that children working together socially were able to learn what they needed to without anything that looked like traditional formal learning. In fact, the idea was that Sugata would simply leave a computer for village children in India to use and that was that! Amazingly the children learnt to use the computer, they also learnt how to speak English with a more 'English' accent and also learnt a good deal of a Biotechnology course (in English) Remember, this was all done on their own without a 'teacher'!
So what has this to do with social media?
Well, I think it is an excellent example of how people can solve problems together by talking through problems with other people. Provide them with engaging tools and let them go - together.
Social media really is just a technological 'tweak' of what you see in the video. Instead of children in a village there are employees in an organisation communicating through various social media tools. As in the video, someone may for a time become the teacher, helping others with a problem, whilst others will provide encouragement (like the 'method of the grandmother' in the video)
And perhaps the most important point is that social media often works just as the learning in the video, people often do not see what they are doing as 'learning'. But honestly, who cares, as long as people are learning!
So how about organisations?
Provide engaging tools that allow employees to find what they need to know, when they need to know it. Provide these tools within an online social environment, allowing people to engage with and learn with other people. Allow the system to self-organise, build trust within the organisation.
So, to wrap this up.
Learning can (should?) be social, people can do it amongst themselves without formal structures and it mightn't even look like learning!
Oh, and buy The New Social Learning, really, it's worth the read! (and if you want to know more about it, I'll write a post on it in a week's time!)