tools in business—not just in learningbut in everything a business does.“Gradually, social networking is be-coming so ingrained in how we livethat it will also become ingrained inthe way we work,” says Rodriguez.“The question is, how do we do it ina way that advances the business andalso contains the risks? We are answer-ing that question by providing morerobust tools that make collaborationeven more accessible and ecient to thebroader internal and external ecosystem,while also educating users on howto be eective and more accountablesocial learners.”Social learning is not without risks—some perceived but some very real:leaked inormation, learning programsthat might be inconsistent andcontradictory, productivity lossesand a candor in exchanges that may not always be productive.Consider the company that establishedan internal orum akin to a Facebook page. Direct reports to a senior executivewere asked to post their vision statementsor their organization onto his page.One manager did so, but the executivedidn’t like it. His response—visible toeveryone in the entire company—wasthat the manager’s posting wasn’t atrue vision statement and would needto be totally reworked beore it wouldbe acceptable. Not something that’s likely to stimulate learning and the opensharing o ideas again anytime soon.Properly designed and managed,however, social media tools have greatpotential to harness the experientialdimension o the workplace to deliver relevant learning experiences thatrefect both proven expertise within aunction or industry and timely accessto an organization’s best thinking,wherever it might be.
A social learning solution developedby Microsot—called Academy Mobile—is an internal platorm employees canuse to share knowledge by creating andposting audio and video podcasts. Theplatorm has been enormously popular,with download trac up 115 times inits rst two years.Its value resides largely in how easily employees across Microsot’s globalorganization can translate interactions,meetings or timely personal insightsinto content that can support better learning, perormance and idea genera-tion. For example, using the platorm, virtual meetings can be captured,catalogued, indexed and convertedto video or audio. Content is search-able, and learning programs are alsoorganized and catalogued by topic,creating a kind o virtual curriculum.The academy is available on workers’mobile devices as well.The Academy Mobile platorm isespecially valuable to employees suchas salespeople: It enables them to learnrapidly about particular products,solutions and sales techniques sothey can capitalize on an immediatecustomer opportunity.How does a Microsot employee knowwhat content is more valuable than other content? In part, through a rankingsystem rom the users themselves. Theranking (rom one to ve stars) becomesa means by which the best ideas rise tothe top because o their practical value.Employees can also interact and ask questions o content creators, generatinga dialogue that may become as importantas the original posting—and oers anoth-er indicator o what content is “hot.”The ability to rate content sourcedonline will become increasingly impor-tant to eective enterprise learning. Inits totality, the Internet is the world’sgreatest source o learning but, to usethe cliché, that’s a bit like saying thata re hose is the greatest source o drinking water. A company’s knowledge system mightwell provide a search capability andgenerate abundant content in responseto a query, but then what? Content
Social media toolshave great potentialto harness theexperiential dimensionof the workplace.