Your Social Learning Initiative Just Needs a Purpose (and an Enterprise Social Network)

I originally saw the link to this Gartner post on the tibbr enterprise social network blog

There is an important lesson in this Gartner report that says social collaboration projects fail because they don't have a purpose. Ah…the nemesis of so many failed projects. Although this Gartner research was specifically on social collaboration projects, the same can likely be said for social learning implementations.  
Your Social Learning Initiative Needs a Purpose
What's Your Social Learning Target?

The last thing you want to do is implement social learning in your organization. Even though I am a proponent of social learning, have designed and implemented social learning interventions in organizations, and am even doing my dissertation on social learning, I would not recommend just starting a social learning initiative in yours or any other organization. 

They key is not to "implement social learning." In fact, implementing social learning is probably the worst thing you can do. 

Instead, the key (at least when starting out) is to leverage the power of interaction and create experiences in which your learners can gather and discuss specific topics related to a learning event. 

Here are a few ideas:

Idea #1: If you are conducting a leadership development program, why not facilitate a discussion on one of the topics using an enterprise social network instead of waiting to do it in  the class. 

Idea #2: Instead of conducting group activities in your exiting classes, select one and have people perform that activity as a team using the enterprise social network to have the discussion, post/share documents, and submit their work. Have participants do the work on their own and use class time to do your debrief and review.

Idea #3: Even more simply, stop doing those boring ice breakers and introductions at the beginning of all of your training classes. Move those into your enterprise social network, and have people meet each other there. That way, when they all arrive in class, they already know each other.

The purpose is not to "do social learning." The purpose is to bring learning closer to people's work and empower them to interact with and learn from each other in the context of their work.

What have your social learning initiatives been like? Share your successes and failures below. If you have done a social learning project, what did you learn and what would you do differently next time?