United by networked and social learning

In technologies for collaboration and cooperation I looked at how the differences between structured/informal and goal/opportunity oriented activities influence the design of the work/learning environment.

Work Teams need to get things done. An effective collaborative work team integrates work and learning while focused on delivering products or services.  Open communications, keeping processes as simple as possible, releasing and testing often –  all make sense in an increasingly complex workplace.

Learning Networks, on the other hand, have to be personal or they won’t get used. However, they have a great value to the organization as a whole by being on the periphery and embracing chaos.  Another benefit of online, open personal learning networks is to promote critical thinking.

Communities of Practice are an in-between place – lightly structured with general goals and open to opportunities. Successful online communities are run with a gentle hand.

All three of these structures are united by networked and social learning. These are necessary to not only do the work but to prepare for the work to be done: emergent practices.

Work is enabled by these three structures and I would venture to guess that, in complex environments, it is hampered by not employing all three. Imagine a small work team producing a deliverable on a deadline for a client, where some of the members of that team are providing advice and information to other teams on related projects. Meanwhile, other team members working with a larger and looser network in identifying new business opportunities. The entire organization is more effective through networked and social learning.

Organizations need to allow for collaborative and cooperative communications and activities, and not constrain knowledge work with too much structure.

4 Responses to “United by networked and social learning”

  1. Kelly Meeker, OpenSesame

    It would be interesting to add another axis to that diagram about direct impact on work output, which you would expect to be highest at the structured level but might in fact be most noticeable at the PLN level.

    In my opinion, at least, making a sincere effort to engage your employees has a higher impact on productivity than other faux morale building activities. Empowering them to create a meaningful PLN is a good first step towards supporting their own personal goals.


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