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Social Learning Strategies Checklist

January 12, 2010

Kevin D. Jones and I are doing a session at Training 2010 titled Defining Your Social Learning Strategy.  As prep for this, we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist of Social Learning Strategy topics that learning professionals and executives should consider when thinking through their objectives and plans.   Here is a link to the doc, but if you would prefer to read it in-line, the full body of the doc is below.  Let me know what you think we missed and we’ll update it.  In the event that you want to use this for your own initiatives, all we ask is that you adhere to the  Creative Commons Share Alike license.

Introduction to Social Learning Strategies

Organizational adoption of social media as a comprehensive learning strategy is one part software rollout, one part transformational change, and one part large scale corporate initiative.  Depending on your initial focus, it might involve a single cohort group, your whole company, your partners or suppliers, your clients, or even the public at large.  Regardless of your scope, there are a number of critical items that you must address in order to achieve success.  While you may not need to address all of the issues below on your particular initiative, you should at least consider the implications and issues for each item below, and where necessary, develop a plan of action to address those that are relevant to your situation.

Checklist of Social Learning Strategies

Cultural Issues Related to Social Learning
What do you want it to be?  What is it today?

  • Openness vs. planning?  Where is your balance point?
  • Autonomy and self-direction vs. top-down mandates?  Where is your balance point?
  • What do executives, key stakeholders and “rank-and-file” think about social media and sharing?
  • What are your organizational attitudes about transparency?
  • To what extent do learners take personal responsibility and accountability for their learning?

Social Learning Approaches and Methods
What “kind” of  Social Learning models are you pursuing?  How do they integrate?

  • Codified?
  • Collaborative?
  • Emergent?
  • What kinds of social learning interventions do you need?
  • Do you need focused Communities of Practice or decentralized social learning that is part of all learning experiences?  Or both?
  • Will you pursue a federated model and use best-of-breed from multiple provides with a single or multiple aggregation points?
  • Will you use a unified suite that offers core social media applications, such as SharePoint or Jive?
  • How will your social media elements interact with your Learning Management System?
  • If “social learning” happens outside the LMS, what will happen where?
  • If “social learning” happens outside the LMS, how will you see a unified view of learner activity?
  • Where will you keep the “profile” of record to avoid having multiple learner profiles across multiple systems?
  • If you use a federated approach or multiple systems in any way, how will ensure that learners can discover people through content, content through people, content through content, and people through people across your systems?
  • If you use a federated approach or multiple systems, how will you search?
  • If you use a federated approach or multiple systems, how will develop recommendation, reward, and recognition strategies?
  • If you use a suite approach, how will you address gaps – missing wiki, missing microblog etc…?

Social Learning Planning
Who owns what?  How will get from point A to point B?  How will you mitigate risk?

  • What kinds of social media are already being used in the organization?
  • For what purpose?
  • Who owns them?
  • What kinds of learning communities do you want to help along through hands-on nurturing?
  • What kinds of learning communities do you want to more proactively manage and plan?
  • What are the problems you are trying to solve?
  • Who is your target member for your community?
  • What are the problems your community members are trying to solve?
  • If the problems are solved, what does success look like?
  • If the problems are solved, what is the impact of success?
  • What is your Social Learning Policy?
  • What is your plan when these policies are breached?
  • What is in your Miss Manners Guide to Social Learning?
  • Who is on your Social Learning Governance Board – IT, Legal, CLO etc…?
  • How will social learning activities factor into key performance indicators and performance reviews?
  • What does IT own?  Some suggestions:  security issues, archiving, technical issues, deployment, options, aggregation, report consolidation, integration fulfillment, report fulfillment.
  • What does Learning own?  Some suggestions:  strategy, cultural readiness, “tools” training, moderation, member management, community management, programming, integration requirements, reporting fulfillment with built-in reporting tools.
  • What does Legal and Compliance own?  Some suggestions:  archival strategy, social media storage requirements, approval strategies for sensitive content (which might be all content), member management and “flagging” policies, reporting requirements for all of the above.
  • Who will support your organization’s use of social media?  Technical support?  IT?  Learning?
  • What is your start point in terms of participants and technologies?
  • What is the long-term rollout plan?  What social media tools will be turned on when?  When you do turn on new functionality, what is the trigger – time, membership, activity?
  • Will you organize content topically, hierarchically by division, unit etc…, or by functional area?
  • What is your launch strategy to drive participation? (more below)
  • What is your moderation strategy?
  • What is your reporting strategy?
  • Who will own your programming schedule?
  • How will you identify champions and key influencers prior to roll-out and on an on-going basis?
  • Who will be responsible for defining content categories and the overall ontology of your social learning content?
  • What is end of life or end game for your learning community?  Does the community evolve into something else?  Is it archived?  Is there a planned obsolescence because it’s a one-off in response to external factors what will change?

Social Learning Launch Activities
How will you quickly achieve critical mass?  How will you sustain and grow the initiative over time?

  • What other corporate initiative(s) is the launch point tied to?
  • How will you drive traffic and participation in the “early days”?  Some suggestions:  competitions, rewards, “forcing” through changed process, well-planned programming schedules, middle management expectations, senior level management modeling, social media events – wiki barn raising, live chats, team video jams etc…
  • Who will be responsible for enforcing your policy and procedure changes?  For example, if learners are not supposed to answer questions of each other via email, but through the wiki or an FAQ discussion board, who will be responsible for enforcing the change?
  • Who will be responsible for “seeding” content before go-live?
  • Who will communicate the launch?
  • How will you ensure that learners have the necessary skills and tools to participate in the conversation and sharing?  Things to consider:  training on the social media tools, training on social media concepts, lots of early recognition and praise.

Social Learning Technical, Legal, Compliance Issues
How will this effort fit into existing corporate governance strategies?

  • What is your security plan to prevent unauthorized viewing of sensitive data?
  • What is your data recovery plan in the event of corruption, server failure etc…?
  • What is your plan to communicate the security so that users can help safeguard sensitive content while feeling secure enough to freely share within the defined parameters of the site?
  • What is your records retention policy?
  • What is your content permissions policy?
  • Do you need a “contact” permission policy to prevent your SME’s or other experts from being overwhelmed?
  • Do you have a “Do not discuss via Social Media” list?  What is it and how will it be communicated?
  • What kinds of topics require “pre-approval” before posting live to the site?
  • What kinds of topics must include “report violation” options after they go live?
  • Do you have a list of keywords that should be redacted or replaced?
  • Do you have a keyword list that should trigger notification to SMEs, Legal or Compliance personnel?
  • What is your reaction plan to a breach of policy?  Who owns it?  Who enforces it?

Social Learning Communities in the Extended Enterprise
Planning for community members who are “outside” the company walls…

  • If you have external audiences, suppliers, partners, clients, etc… in addition to internal audiences, what is your plan for all of the above for your external audiences?
  • What is your strategy for leveraging public social media channels?
  • Is the Learning group the lead or is Marketing, Customer Support, Product Management, etc…?
  • How will your social learning strategies compliment your marketing, customer support, product, etc… strategies?
  • How will you leverage content between various constituents?
  • Do you need to have “blended” areas where clients, employees, suppliers etc… co-mingle in a shared space with access to shared content?
  • What role do your external members play in community management, programming or moderation?

Social Learning Community Management
How will you manage and grow your community over time?

  • Who will be in charge of community management?
  • What is your moderation strategy?
  • Who is responsible for moderation?
  • How many months in advance will you publish your programming schedule?
  • How will you reward and recognize key contributors in ways that increase internal motivation?
  • What sort of member management policies do you need?
  • Who enforces member management?
  • What role will senior leaders play in contributing to the learning community?
  • How will you market your successes and the growing value of the content?
  • How will you promote new content, new members, new groups, and new topics?

Social Learning Professional Development, Skills, Competencies
What kinds of skills and competencies do you need to develop as a learning professional?

  • Become a Social Media tools maven – wiki, video, podcast, blogging, microblogging, etc…
  • Understand key concepts of Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Understand key concepts related to Team Building and Team Dynamics
  • Understand key concepts in Social Psychology
  • Understand key issues of self-efficacy as it relates to social media: trust, belonging, self-confidence, self-direction, motivation, skills
  • Knowledge of moderation strategies and key moderation concepts like seeding, facilitating, autonomy, respect, and flow
  • Knowledge of key community management strategies including programming, reward and recognition models, advertising and awareness campaigns, member management
  • Ongoing professional development by networking outside the company through social learning
14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 10:40 am

    Hi! Great post, and document. I’m going to translate this to Finnish, with CC BY-SA license and links back to this page and the authors’ sites.

    • dwilkinsnh permalink*
      January 15, 2010 11:47 pm

      Tarmo — thanks for doing this. Please feel free to add and extend as well. We’ve already got some edits planned as well. We’ll be sure to update our blogs as we continue to extend it over time.

  2. Noah permalink
    January 12, 2010 3:53 pm

    Fantastic! Extremely relevant and useful when considering community and social issues!

  3. January 13, 2010 12:22 pm

    I agree, it’s very important to determine what your goals are prior to your implementation of you social media marketing campaign. Here’s some information that I think people can use in lieu of yours

  4. January 13, 2010 10:00 pm

    Excellent, Dave!

    You might want to add a change management component. This could be in the form of some right-hand columns where you check off who’s likely to answer each question. I see queries for HR, management, IT, designers, etc.


    • dwilkinsnh permalink*
      January 15, 2010 11:49 pm

      Awesome idea Jay. One of the areas I wanted to extend were some of the areas where we suggest ownership on certain areas. Adding another column throughout is an even better approach. Thanks for the feedback.

  5. January 16, 2010 7:24 am

    Hmm… My blogger blog apparently didn’t send a trackback. Anyway, the Finnish translation is at

    Please keep me/us updated as new editions come out.

  6. Chip Ritter permalink
    February 3, 2010 7:40 pm

    What a great checklist! Very comprehensive. Thanks for a great post!

  7. December 13, 2010 11:54 am

    Thank you for the great share. I will be back to read more.


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