In my recent webinar presentation for the LSG online conference, Using a collaboration platform for brilliant learning, rather than giving a PowerPoint presentation, I took the participants on a web tour of the Social Learning Centre. And, in doing so, I demonstrated how:
- Workplace learning is not just about training – but about supporting learning across the Social Workplace Learning Continuum – and involves both organising structured learning experiences as well as supporting informal learning.
- Workplace learning is not (just) about creating content (aka courses), dumping them into a LMS and then just monitoring usage – but is also about helping people to make the most of how they learn naturally and continuously as they do their jobs – in the flow of work – in project or work teams.
- Workplace learning is not just about internal experts telling people what they should know or do – but is also about peers sharing their thoughts and experiences (and in doing so learning just as much from one another). And that even where more formal, structured approaches are desired, social (learning) experiences need to be designed that are lite on content and rich in interaction.
- Workplace learning in the truest, fullest sense is not something that can be managed, technologically, in a LMS or “learning platform” (even if it does include social features) - but is something that needs to be underpinned, technologically, using the VERY SAME social collaboration platform that powers the work – as well as encouraged in external personal and professional (learning) networks. “Learning” is at the very heart of everything that happens in an organisation – not separate from it.
- The role of the workplace learning professional is therefore no longer about being a TRAINING Manager but being a LEARNING COMMUNITY Manager* – who encourages social connections and fosters a sense of belonging to an enterprise community of learners – for the purpose of supporting and improving performance in the workplace.
This (new) role of the Enterprise Learning Community Manager (ELCM) has appealed to many, and I am actually already working with a number of organisations helping them understand what it entails and the (new) skills that are required. But here are just some of the activities that I believe are involved:
- Making good use of the collaborative functionality of the platform/tools that power the work in the organisation – someone isn’t a true ELCM if they only focus on supporting activities hosted in their LMS
- Coordinating and promoting a series of ongoing social activities in many formats and lengths - so that learning is seen as a continuous process not an event
- Regularly stimulating the social activities that the ELCM him/herself “manages” – s/he needs to practise what s/he preaches and model the new social behaviours and approaches of collaborative working and learning
- Responding to the learning or performance needs of members – both learners/employees and managers – and addressing their needs in more engaging, “modern” ways
- Helping learning designers use a new lite social design approach – that is not focused on content, but on activities as well as stimulating conversation and discussion
- Supporting knowledge sharing within work teams – as part of the whole process of supporting/improving performance
- Facilitating the making of connections across the organization and into outside networks – so that the whole organisation can “learn” from a wider set of people
- Helping to address the problems that community members (individuals), social (learning) designers, facilitators or others might encounter
- Educating the enterprise as a whole on the benefits and value of an Enterprise Learning Community ethos and approach – but not “forcing” people to participate until they are ready to do so
One thing for sure is that this role brings with it a much more visible profile for the workplace learning professional in the business than ever before; it is not just about being tucked away in an office somewhere – commissioning or creating content.
UPDATE: So, in response to a number of requests for more information about becoming an Enterprise Learning Community Manager, I am going to be offering a new online workshop at the Social Learning Centre in the September. If you are interested in this new role, come and join me there AND/OR visit my new website The Learning Community Manager.
*I don’t really like the term “Manager” but as the concept of a Community Manager is now quite well known, I use the term here for the sake of ease – although it could easily be changed to something else. However, I suspect that including the term “Manager” in the title will help some organisations to feel more comfortable about this new role.