I have spent a lot of time this week discussing the evolving corporate learning challenges presented by Web 2.0 and the growing influence of social networking. There is wisdom in the “crowd”. Many of us, however, fear the “crowd”. If memory serves me, the corporate “we” also feared fax machines, email, and the internet, all within the last 20 years. The “crowd” is now ever-present in this Web 2.0 universe. Thought leaders are not running for the exits or erecting fences, rather they are embracing the opportunity to harness the wisdom of the “crowd”. Mzinga has now successfully published the first truly crowd-authored book. - a book authored by thousands, and assembled in a cohesive final copy.
Dell, Intel, and Ace Hardware, to name a few, have taken to the community to share, to teach, to author, to design and to improve. Web 2.0 is now Learning 2.0. Intel has published two year results indicating over 5,000 authors of new learning content.
However, the prevailing corporate attitude still remains pessimistic and guarded. “What will the say?”; “Who will see it?”; “How will we control what they say?”; “What if they say something wrong?”. On the surface, valid concerns. The reality is that social networking, workplace informal communities, airing dirty laundry… it is all happening anyway. The innovators are finding a way to learn, adapt and leverage.
Running in parallel to the new Web 2.0 communities we are faced with the reality of Generational Differences in the workplace. Increasingly, the Gen Y’s are making up a significant proportion of the workplace. They are driving this change in how students now learn.
I suggest a learning strategy that involves the historically popular blended components - classroom, job aids, eLearning modules, job shadowing, etc…. and of course - let’s always be thinking about business metrics. This next generation of learning leadership will consider the wisdom of the “crowd” and their mobile device capabilities to ensure optimum results. Be careful about too much resistance in the short term. It is happening all around you.