In my post on reconciling informal and informal, I suggested that there are practical things L&D groups can do about informal learning. I’ve detected a fair bit of concern amongst L&D folks that this threatens their jobs, and I think that’s misplaced. Consequently, I want to get a wee bit more specific than what I said then:
- they can make courses about how to use social media better (not everyone knows how to communicate and collaborate well)
- share best practices
- work social media into formal learning to make it easier to facilitate the segue into the workplace
- provide performance support for social media
- be facilitating the use of social media
- unearth good practices in the organization and share them
- foster discussion
I also noted “And, yes, L&D interventions there will be formal in the sense that they’re applying rigor, but they’re facilitating emergent behaviors that they don’t own“. And that’s an important point. It’s wrapping support around activities that aren’t content generated by the L&D group. Two things:
- the expertise for much doesn’t reside in the L&D group and it’s time to stop thinking that it all can pass through the L&D group (there’s too much, too fast, and the L&D group has to find ways to get more efficient)
- there is expertise in the L&D group (or should be) that’s more about process than product and can and should be put into practice.
So, the L&D group has to start facilitating the sharing of information between folks. How can they represent and share their understandings in ways the L&D group can facilitate, not own? How about ensuring the availability of tools like blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, discussion forums, media file creating/sharing, and profiles, and helping communities learn to use them? Here’s a way that L&D groups can partner with IT and add real value via a synergy that benefits the company.
That latter bit, helping them learn to use them is also important. Not everyone is naturally a good coach or mentor, yet these are valuable roles. It’s not just producing a course about it, but facilitating a community around these roles. There are a lot of myths about what makes brainstorming work, but just putting people in a room isn’t it. If you don’t know, find out and disseminate it! How about even just knowing how to work and play well with others, how to ask for help in ways that will actually get useful responses, supporting needs for blogging, etc.
There are a whole host of valuable activities that L&D groups can engage in besides developing content, and increasingly the resources are likely to be more valuable addressing the facilitation than the design and development. It’s going to be just too much (by the time it’s codified, it’s irrelevant). Yes, there’ll still be a role for fixed content (e.g. compliance), but hopefully more and more curricula and content will be crowd-sourced, which increases the likelihood of it’s relevance, timeliness, and accuracy.
Start supporting activity, not controlling it, and you will likely find it liberating, not threatening.