The New Social Learning – Review

Let me say just two words about The New Social Learning by Marcia Conner & Tony Bingham – buy it.

OK, that’s for people who want it short and sweet. Let me add a bit of explanation. This book covers not only the why of social media for learning but also the how, with plenty of examples and case studies. Marcia and Tony have mined the collective knowledge of hundreds of specialists and practitioners and blended it all together with their own insight. This is an impressive work and it is just as accessible to the novice as the expert (if there is such a thing in this new field).

The book starts with just enough theory to cover the rationale of why networked learning is so powerful and includes detailed notes and references for those who want to dig further. The companion website offers more information, videos and links. You can also connect via Twitter to @NewSocialLearn. However, there is enough information in the book to get you started, convince your boss, or dig deeper into a particular medium, like micro-sharing or immersive environments.

As they write in the book, the time has come for social learning :

The convergence of three key trends accelerates the need for social learning. Although some of these trends have been observable for decades, their influence compounds.

Three Converging Workplace Trends

  • Expanding opportunities for personal connection.
  • Emerging expectations from shifting workforce demographics
  • Increasing reach of customized technology.

If you liked the ideas discussed in A Framework for Social Learning or The Evolving Social Organization, then The New Social Learning provides greater depth and many resources all under one cover (without the hyperlinks, but that’s the limitation of print). It’s like a snapshot of a field just on the cusp of major growth and publicly perceived relevance. I think that this book will be seen as key to workplace learning, much like Gloria Gery’s Electronic Performance Support Systems (1995); Marc Rosenberg’s e-Learning (2000); and Jay Cross’s Informal Learning (2006). All of these books contribute to the understanding of workplace learning as much more than the delivery of courses.

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