Part of the Work at Learning/Learning at Work blog carnival hosted by Manish Mohan.
A few months back, I started two collaborative multi-author blogs for my company (one for my software development team and one for my e-learning development team) and helped a couple of other individuals at work to start their own. I also started a group at Ning and am an active member of LearnHub. My own blog at WordPress is my own anthological meandering. I have used or am aware of most of the collaboration tools available that use Web 2.0 technology or learning 2.0 frameworks.
So all that was great. However, I found that, passion/skill/capability or not, it is probably only people with a high level of self-motivation, the humility to learn, the need to be part of the community and share, and having an incessant need to improve themselves, that would really be able to leverage learning through this new medium. The other blogs never really took off despite organizational incentives (an elaborate point system that encouraged posts, comments and community participation linked to actual incentives) that I set up.
I find myself asking the question – how many of those would we find in our organization, or in any other for that matter? Are there barriers to entry that we can identify and lower for this kind of a mindset/behaviour? Is this behaviour something that would have existed in physical or other forms even if Web 2.0 wasn’t around? Maybe people who earlier (than 2.0) exhibited the same mindset in an offline/non 2.0 space are the ones who are most geared for the new medium? Maybe the vast majority are resistant to learning per se? Maybe the amount of content is so vast and endless that they give up quickly trying to find the right stuff? Maybe there are personal and cultural inhibitions to being able to articulate their thoughts? Maybe the very concept of being in a community requires them to identify themselves and this interferes with the preferred anonymity of a classroom or prior online space? Are we over-hyping the Web 2.0 phenomenon? Is a PLE going to really help in the mind boggling explosion of content? Is the ability to clearly demonstrate a metrics based assessment and certification system in the traditional approach going to exist in the new approach so that organizations can really track progress and award certifications?
Don’t get me wrong. I love and believe in what is going on. I appreciate the fantastic work people are doing and the exemplary discussions we are having between traditional and new social constructivist schools. My team is a fantastic collection of extremely skilled people. However the questions and experiences so far that I have are a trifle unsettling and demand answers.
What was great in Learning at Work was that I learnt a whole load of new things using the new tools and gained access to a lot of extremely intelligent and articulate people. Even more interesting was that I could find a way to get relevant information to my teams even if they were not actively blogging or participating in the community through simple emails to various groups. I am now starting focus groups around specific posts or articles I found for each interest group within my organization and creating a collaborative culture in small localized steps. It’s hard work to merge what they need to learn with what interests them, but I am hoping this approach may act to lower their barriers to entry.