Training and Social Media Taught Me to Tie a Tie

Anytime my daughter asks a question like, “What do starfish eat?” or, “Can you tie a tie like Daddy?” I turn to the oracle — the Internet. I use Google multiple times a day — looking for information on how to do this, or how to do that — for both my professional life and my personal life. A lot of the information I find is posted by ordinary folks — folks with a passion for a topic and willing to share their knowledge with others.

So this made me think of organizations. Of the companies I’ve worked for or currently consult with, very few have a robust Knowledge Management System (KMS) where those with the knowledge can easily share that knowledge with others. In fact, most of the knowledge sharing that takes place in one of two ways:

1. A training department produces training.

2. Someone sticks their head over their cube and asks their neighbor.

But what if the formal training event isn’t available or isn’t specific enough? What if your cube mate is out of the office? Employees need a better way to share knowledge with one another.

In comes the KMSs again. Except the average KMS is very text-driven – databases filled with documents or Q&A, and employees simply search for keywords. They typically do not allow for employees to interact with one another. This method of knowledge sharing has worked fine for years (because there were really no other options) but I think with the momentum of social media, employees are going to push to change this. Employees desire ways to interact with each other as the share information.

There is one e-learning company, QuickLessons, that is seeing this trend too, and they developed a product that I think organizations should take notice of and consider – Izzui. Izzui is a free, easy-to-use application that sits on Facebook.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  With a tool like Izzui, experts (a.k.a. employees) can create content to share information with learners (a.k.a. other employees). Organizations can even produce training for their customers.

Employees training employees is not new. But what is new is the social media component. This is what intrigues me the most. The social media component provides the medium for discussions about the learning, the discussion that is as equally as valuable as the learning event itself.

When a course is intergraded on a social media platform, learners can interact. If for example I need to learn to tie a tie, I can review a brief tutorial created by the guy who wears ties to the office every day. (There is a tie tutorial on the Izzui Facebook page.) I might then choose to share some knowledge of my own — how to properly untie the tie for example. As other learners view the course, they will see my comment.  They may add to it, or provide additional resources. Before you know it, you have a community of learners sharing knowledge with one another, and it doesn’t take much. It only takes 20 people to bring an online community to a significant level of activity and connectivity (via TheNextWeb). For an organization this is priceless! Not only are employees all working together to increase their knowledge base, they are also capturing those knowledge assets for the organization.

Here are some tips for incorporating social media into your organization:

  • Consider your corporation social media strategy. (Resource Article: Get Serious About Social Learning by Focusing on What Matters)
  • Establish a social media policy for your organization. (Resource Article: 57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources)
  • Don’t hold training technology captive! Give access to e-learning development tools directly to the employees. (ex: Izzui by QuickLessons)
  • Give employees “a place” to gather.  (ex: Hosted third party sites like LinkedIn and Ning; Partially self-hosted sites like KickApps and Yammer or even SharePoint)
  • Integrate social media into your formal training initiatives. (ex: Give learners an “assignment” to interact on your social media site)
Tanya Coomes

One Response to “Training and Social Media Taught Me to Tie a Tie

  • Tanya, I kept thinking about this post after I’d read it. Partially because of the intriguing question your daughter asked. Where DO kids come up with their questions, is what I want to know! We “fossilize” ourselves, when we get too staid and complacent to ask questions of the universe. Let’s never be too old to think like a child and hence learn.

    I’m intrigued by social learning in general. A day doesn’t go by in which I don’t glean a myriad of resources to investigate from blog posts like this one, or a LinkedIn group, or something special in Twitter (…gotta love #lrnchats!).

    Regarding employees training employees, one can’t pick up a journal in the HR or learning field without reading an article about that essential and elusive employee trait of engagement. It’s been my experience as an employee, a manager, and an observer that employees are most engaged when they have the opportunity to demonstrate what they know to a wider audience of peers. What’s great about social media platforms like Facebook is the potential to share with even more people outside the organization. When the vehicle itself is fun and dynamic, as are the posts in Izzui, they make learning rewarding contextually, adding to benefits of knowledge gain.

    I’m look forward to seeing what people share with Izzui as word continues to get out. Thanks for sharing this.

    (By the way, was provoked to discover myself just what those starfish DO eat, and found the answer here… …mmmnn.clams, oysters, scallops, getting hungry myself!)

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