Social learning and the workplace


A library is no different to any other organization having to face changes in the workplace brought about by technology (among other things).

One such change at our library, for example, has been the introduction of LibAnswers, an automated system designed to take a client’s question and present various answers that will very likely come close enough to providing a suitable solution to the problem.   This is an example of the automation of what Harold Jarche, in Social learning is for human work, describes as “standardised work”, which includes “knowledge work” (i.e. what librarians have always done a lot of).

What does this mean for the humans who work in the library?   According to Jarche, it means an increase in “customised work”, which will happen through “social learning”  (a relatively straightforward concept involving learning from one another).

“The learning imperative for the new workplace is not to know more stuff, because software can do that for us, but to become more human. Social learning will help us collaborate and cooperate in doing customized work, requiring thinking and building skills in order to innovate and craft unique products and services”.

Jarche advocates social media/ networking as a powerful means of fostering social learning and outlines some of the benefits:

1. Helps groups of people share their knowledge in non-hierarchical ways

2. Not limited to the confines of instruction or training

3. Enables better and faster knowledge feedback loops, essential for innovation and creativity.

4. Enables sharing of implicit knowledge

I’ve been reading these kind of ideas from Jarche and his colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance for a while now.  However,  it’s only  since I recently ventured into the world of social media, starting with baby steps to build my own PLN (for example becoming involved in #blogjune and #ANZ23mthings) that I have begun to understand the implications of what social learning via social media within an organization may mean.

One of the most important realisations for me has been to to see that it can provide a means to generate innovation, creativity and passion.

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