Chapter 3: “Performance Support in the Social Age”
I’m writing all this week, developing a new book, which has the provisional title “Working and Learning in the Social Age“. As usual, I’m #WorkingOutLoud and sharing some extracts as I go. Here is the start of a chapter that looks at how we support performance, using social learning approaches:
The challenge for formal learning was not generating understanding in the classroom: the challenge was to take that understanding and effect real change back out in the real world. That’s a lot of ‘real’ to achieve and, unsurprisingly, it usually failed. The leakage was everywhere, but it was nobodies fault but our own.
People would often design great courses or modules and they would be entertaining and maybe engaging. But they were abstract. When learning is defined by a special ‘place to learn’ and a special ‘time to learn’, it’s outside of our reality. We can create experiences, but lack application.
Organisations use role-plays and simulations to help cross the gap between ‘learning’ and ‘application’, but it’s a wide gap to cross. Which is where Social Learning approaches come in.
Social Learning faces a different challenge: it’s inherently out in the real world, within and alongside your communities and embedded right there next to your job. So it’s easy to make it feel real and, indeed, we can use ‘real’ examples from your ‘real’ life in the co-creative spaces.
It’s challenge is, instead, to make links back to the theory, to build the underlying knowledge schemas and frameworks required to fit what we are learning into the bigger picture.
But learning is not meant to be abstract: it serves a purpose (or at least, in organisational contexts it does. In our own lives, we can learn for the sheer pleasure of it!). In the end, it’s all about performance improvement, about helping people to be more effective and to do that in a way that’s both fair and timely (and recognises the demands of the revised SOCIAL CONTRACT).
The Ecosystem of the Social Age supports performance. Why? Because everything within it is making learning more accessible and relevant, and the structures of social learning and leadership help make it more applied and supported.