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Social Learning Question of the Day

February 19, 2009

Just over a month ago, I made a great personal and professional connection in the learning space – Kevin Jones.  We met at the 2008 DevLearn show.  I presented on Wednesday on “Learning 2.0 and Workplace Communities.”  Kevin presented on Friday on “15 Objections to Social Networking, and How to Overcome Them.”  As it happened, Kevin attended my session and liked what he heard, so he invited me to co-present on his topic on Friday.  Very gracious of him and a true example of social learning and collaboration.  As it turned out, we had very similar presenting styles, very similar outlooks regarding social learning, and a real good initial “click.”

So we decided to do some more stuff together.  Kevin kicked off the Social Learning Question of the Day Twitter Group which we co-moderate and seed, we started a podcast series last week which will we’ll publicly launch in early January, and Kevin is going to reprise his Objections to Social Learning theme in a joint webinar we’re going to hold sometime in January.

The Social Learning Question of the Day has been pretty interesting so far.  The basic premise is that Social Learning is a new and emerging discipline and none of us, even those of who are really moving hard in this direction, have all the answers.  So each day Kevin and I post a question to the group and ask for their insights which are then shared back to the group.  It’s kind of like a Twitter listserv.  The magic of this was all Kevin’s doing and it’s pretty cool.

In just three weeks, membership has grown to 210 members and we’ve seen some pretty interesting comments and responses to some of the questions we’ve asked.  Here was our first question:  “What are the most valuable characteristics of social learning (eLearning 2.0) for you – and why?”  Here are our first five answers from the group:

@shareski: SL means that we have to be comfortable with just social sometimes, without learning.
@geofdudding: tapping into knowledge and expertise that is “hidden” in the network
@kerrymcguire: access to knowledge rather than just information, context rather than just content, expertise rather than just FAQ
@jbo27712: User control and discretion, simple to use–no training, can be morphed/transformed, levels playing field
@Quinnovator: collaboration: working together to solve problems brings lots of benefits: other minds/viewpoints, mutual spirit, etc

Crazy good stuff right?  Any of these answers could be a a whole conference session or blog post.  Finding hidden expertise in the network?  Awesome.  Being comfortable with just social stuff?  Doubly awesome and truly insightful.  “Knowledge vs information; context vs content; expertise vs FAQs?”  Wow.  Seriously, this is like a gold mine of insights and perspectives — which is the whole point right?  While I have a lot of confidence in my own insightfullness and Kevin’s, with 210 people (and counting) perspectives weighing in, we’re likely to read some ideas that we haven’t had yet and may not have ever considered.

Subsequent questions and responses have been equally thought-provoking and nuanced.  Consider this response to a question on SL adoption:  @siavogel: “It will not have much influence coming years I think. It goes very slowly here in the Netherlands.”  Did anyone of you know that the Netherlands were slow adopters of social media?  This was news to me.  Or how about these responses to the need to validate accuracy?  @aviana: “isn’t one beauty of knowledge collaboration that we feel obligated to check accuracy? instead of relying on so-called authority” and a dissenting view from Will Thalmier@WillWorkLearn: “AND, even as communities are self-correcting, what about all the damage before they have self-corrected? Let’s be real.”

Needless to say, the Social Learning Question of the Day has been a great success so far, as has the collaboaration between Kevin and I.  The most interesting thing to me in all of this is that both of these initiatives stemmed from or are based on the principles of social learning.  While I’ve always been a big believer and proponent of social learning in my professional life, these experiences have really driven home the impact of social learning on a more personal level.

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