A Measure of Social Learning

People are still hung up on how to measure social learning in organizations. It doesn’t seem easy, clean or even possible and that is unsettling for them. In the end though it’s still really just about measuring learning and that my friends is done through observing behavior change. It doesn’t matter if it’s social learning or training (formal learning), it’s all about are people doing things better or differently because of an interaction (with content or a conversation).

The fact that social learning is happening with or without assistance is often overlooked too. If we want to really enhance it’s capabilities then we need to make some environmental changes in our organizations. Yes, social tech can help extend and expand sharing and conversation but other changes are not to happen through adding but more like altering — such as systems changes (rules, written and unwritten) and removing barriers to connection (physical and psychological). And therein lies a measure, removal. To measure social learning’s impact, try observing reductions in training; quantity, frequency, and duration.

If people are learning more, and better through enhanced connection then the likelihood is that the need and calls for training will decrease. The training that is created will be shorter because it will focus on those things that can only be learned through training. And if less training is needed, there is less time taken from working and therefore more time engaging with and learning from others.

So if you need a measure of social learning look at how it impacts the other ways people are learning. If less content is being produced and fewer courses being built and productivity is up and issues are down, social learning may just be the reason.