Social Learning: Summary

Yesterday i shared the introduction from a chapter i’m writing on Social Learning for a new book. Today, i’m sharing the summary from the end.

The Social Age of Learning

We’ve covered a lot of ground, so let’s summarise where we have got to:

  • Learning is changing: against the backdrop of the Social Age, the type of knowledge we engage with everyday has changed, often co-created, geolocated, adaptive, and hidden within our social communities.
  • Scaffolded Social Learning is a design methodology, and modality of learning, that creates a loose structure, a scaffolding, within which learning communities carry out ‘sense making’ activity, all the while engaging with both formal, and socially gifted, knowledge.
  • Learning takes place within communities that exist outside of formal structure: trust bonded, complex, powerful. Our challenge is to create the conditions for communities to thrive.
  • Within these communities, learners create stories, produce narratives both individually, and collectively: these stories can inform the wider organisation, if it has the humility, and willingness, to learn.
  • But we should handle the stories with care: adopting Social Learning is just one part of a wider cultural transformation. And it’s a cultural transformation that may break every other part of the Organisation.

Stories, communities, learning, these are all expressions of power, and in the context of the Social Age, power itself is evolving.

As we engage in Social Learning, we will discover that our formal power does not carry through into social spaces: within these learning communities, you can shout all you like, but it’s Social Authority, reputation based influence, which counts the most. So in the course of adopting Social Learning, we inadvertently erode the power of the formal organisation.

As we empower the social community, this newly empowered community will demand ever greater freedom and power.

if our aim is learning transformation, then this power is what will drive the change. But it’s a champagne bottle to uncork with care.

The tension between formal systems of control, and socially moderated systems, is a Dynamic Tension, which we upset with care.

A Socially Dynamic Organisation will find a new balance: the very best of the formal (system, process, hierarchy, and control), with the very best of the Social (creativity, subversion, innovation, amplification).

That is our challenge: to craft more collaborative models of learning, and to learn how to build an organisational culture in which learning can thrive”

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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