Many CLOs want employees to share more of their knowledge and challenges with co-workers near and far. They have seen that, as sharing increases, so does productivity, group problem solving, adaptability and competence. So, what collaborative learning strategies have emerged from new technologies? Here are a handful to consider.
1. Community Building. Communities of practice exist to perform real work through collaboration among a group with shared ties but without organizational boundaries. Michael Densley is chief of the Peace Corps’ overseas training division center for field assistance and applied research. His agency promotes informal learning by using online communities of practice.
“We are implementing an off-the-shelf expertise-exchange management system that will enable a strong Q&A discussion forum and knowledge repository capability, thereby enabling the rich expertise across the agency to truly be available to everyone, anytime, anywhere,” he said.
If you are looking for software tools, consider Tomoye Ecco (www.tomoye.com), which supports context creation around new knowledge, stimulates idea generation, connects peers and promotes a culture of sharing across business units. You also can check out iCohere at www.icohere.com and introNetworks at www.intronetworks.com.
2. Knowledge Transfer and Sharing. Organizational trust plays a key role in successful knowledge transfer, sharing and management. Max Goldman, SuccessFactors group product marketing manager, said his organization uses a collaborative strategy to support customer training, build a sense of community, manage knowledge and share information.
SuccessFactors also is opening up its collaborative platform to outside partners to expose the organization’s entire ecosystem to its customers. Resources include Zoho Virtual Office (www.zoho.com) and Croque (www.opencroquet.org).
3. Process and Workflow. When organizations combine collaboration with work processes, content and context using real-time and on-demand collaboration (instant messaging, chat, audio-video), learning can take place exactly when it is needed. Resources include Automatic Work Distributor (www.awdbpm.com) and WorkflowGen (www.workflowgen.com).
4. Team Learning. More than just groups, team learning focuses on action learning among people with similar problems. Virtual teams can share knowledge on an ongoing basis with or without the help of a facilitator. The Peace Corps is piloting the use of virtual meeting and classroom space.
“This is being done to promote stronger global collaboration and learning to take place,” Densley said. “It’s not easy across 80 impoverished countries, but it can be done.”
5. Networked Learning. Rather than just consumption of learning content, networked learning allows learners to collaboratively share, change and create their learning experiences using mobile collaboration, Internet phone, blogs, wikis, social networks and other sharing platforms. Networked learning is all about connections. In a recent podcast, John Patrick, former vice president of Internet technology at IBM, talked about blogging and syndication as a new way to communicate important information for learning in context.
Connections allow learners to collaborate selectively on topics that are relevant to their work. Software tools include LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com) and InFlow (www.orgnet.com/index.html).
Knowledge sharing can make a difference in productivity, teamwork and competence. It’s important to realize collaborative learning changes an organization’s environment. It is not just about groups, tools and systems — it is a change to the culture.
Brandon Hall, Ph.D., is CEO of Brandon Hall Research, publisher of the new study “Emerging E-Learning: New Approaches to Delivering Engaging Online Learning Content.” He can be reached at email@example.com.Filed under: Learning Delivery, Technology