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Collaborative Learning – Lessons From Food Bloggers

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Recently, a friend of mine turned into an avid food blogger. She cooks, takes pics and shares her recipe online…and she is getting creative at it too! Look at how she designed a logo for her blog with Indian pancake and vegetables.

For those who follow food bloggers, you would know that it is one vibrant and active community that spans across countries and continents. Somebody hosts a contest and you have whole lots of entries to the virtual contest. The winner is announced after the closing date and given gifts too! Sometimes, popular bloggers get sponsorships from reputed companies for gifts to be given away through contests. Friendships and relationships are built between individuals who have never met in person. What we see is a great commitment to sharing and learning culinary knowledge from one another.

So, what does this have to do with learning and training in the corporate context? Actually, a lot. These bloggers are an excellent example of collaborative learning. Today, if I have a sparse refrigerator with very little choice of vegetables to make a recipe, all I have to do is go online, punch in the names of veggies that I have and I am bound to find a recipe that will save my day. Let me explain how this can work in corporate context.

Collaborative forums can be set up as a part of the organization’s LMS

Discussion boards, forums, wikis, interactive blogs are some of the social media tools that can be integrated into an LMS today. Also, if a particular office has come up with a resource or a job-aid to address the need of their employees, it can be uploaded into the online repository of resources. Someone from a faraway regional office could benefit from this without having to re-create it from scratch. Wouldn’t that be a great time-saver? Similarly, if I have worked on a solution after some laborious efforts, wouldn’t it be better that I share my experiences and results with a larger group. Someone who is struggling with the same problem would benefit from this experience instead of re-inventing the wheel. He could save time and work on something else instead and share the experience later. Collective intelligence can lead to higher performance any day in an organization.

Collaborative technologies are appealing to Gen Y

Today’s youth are used to constantly communicating with each other, sharing experiences and challenges through social media platforms such as Face Book, You Tube, Snapchat, WhatsApp and more. Obviously, such public platforms cannot be used to share sensitive organizational information due to information security concerns. What if they are provided such a platform within the secured organizational environment where they can interact with their peers? “Yammer” is one such readymade platform that organizations can use for such purposes. Many fortune 500 companies are using this social media platform for enterprises, where employees share their experiences, learnings and challenges that they face in the job context in a secure and organizational environment. A similar option can also be provided within the LMS used by the organization.

 We all know that learning does not stop with the end of a two day training session or a stand-alone eLearning course. On the contrary, it is just a beginning. As per the learning cycle, the difference stages of learning are Review, Learning, Application and Adaptation. While review and learning might take place while undergoing a course or training program, the application and adaptation usually happen on the job over a period of time.

Collaborative technologies are appealing to Gen Y

Such learning has always taken place informally and the onus is largely on the individual. So, wouldn’t it be better if the employees are given a structured platform that provides an opportunity to exchange notes about ways they have applied the knowledge and adapted it to their unique situation within the context of their company? Learning goes beyond the 2 day training session or a 60min eLearning course. The latest Learning Management Systems such as open source Moodle provide the opportunity for organizations to integrate such learning interactions into the platform.

Just like the food blogging community, the learning community would also grow and thrive within an organization. Learning and sharing is a culture that needs to be nurtured where not just the outcomes but how they were arrived at is also highlighted for the larger benefit of the community. Do you have such a platform in your organization? How has it helped you in your learning? Do share your experiences.

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