This is the fifth post in a series of “the Realities of Networked Online Learning Communities”. In case you missed them, here they are “Why should we consider Networked Online Learning Communities“, “Concept of Networked Online Learning Communities“, “How do they enhance the effectiveness of learning“, “Few corporate success stories“.
Online Learning Communities can greatly enhance learning effectiveness, through collaborative and social learning tools, but at the same time present their own challenges of implementation.
Let us have a look at the challenges or reasons, why organizations are not adopting this concept.
1. Apprehensions about disruptions and misuse
The social and collaborative component of Online Learning Communities facilitates “meeting” of learners, bringing in the possibility of threats and privacy issues. This is not so as the group community learning is formless, but because it is conducted outside the domain of the formal training infrastructure and without any proper structuring or mentoring.
Organizations are worried about the confidential information and their leakage, consequences of data going out of the company and its impact on their reputation. These communities can also allow competitors to share information, which can also result in legal issues.
These concerns and apprehensions of organizations about Online Learning Communities is the main barrier holding back their use in corporate world.
2. Cultural issues or resistance to change
It is a known fact that the community learning culture works the best only when the organization is ready for it, or only if it has already established a proven system of knowledge-sharing through a formalized process.
Only the organization’s readiness to accept the change can build a culture of trust and transparency, contributing to a knowledge pool that can help in the development of the individual, as well as the organization.
So educating the learners and their supervisors about the usefulness of online community learning is important, to bring certain degree of acceptance and change in organizational culture.
3. Technology Issues
A new focus on information exchange is emerging, leading to different ways of interaction coming up every day, each adding its own individual value. Technology keeps evolving along with how people wish to connect and contribute in learning. There comes a question of investment in technology and what can be expected out of that investment.
And then the technology limitations, some technologies are very easy to use and get a quick acceptance from learners, while some of them will never get the acceptance and some of them cannot be integrated with the technology that the organizations have already invested in. Therefore, organizations may either be successful in adopting the technology or fall behind.
4. Convincing the top management for the funds and approval
Organizations or the top management therein, looks at ROI and in case of a Learning Community; it might be too hard or rather too early, to measure success and show the results. This is an experimental area and can be a flop despite doing everything required. Installing a collaboration tool will not be enough to identify the success rate, as there are many other variables, as discussed above.
So educating the top management, making a case study on the benefits and convincing them to invest in these online communities, is hard work and is time consuming.
5. Requirement for trained moderators involving expenses
There are also some issues like some learners may involve more and show active participation, while others may not. In order to maintain the flow of learning and manage all these activities, organizations require trained moderators specialized in various domains, depending on the groups.
Specialized moderators can be of great help in developing the culture and creation of efficient community of learners. However this is again seen as an expense and throws the challenge of getting the budgets sanctioned.
Collaborative Learning is exciting and productive! But its implementation is challenging. There are some real control issues or barriers in introducing Learning Communities that need to be addressed. What do you say? Do share if you have anything to add.
This is the final post in a series of “the Realities of Networked Online Learning Communities”.
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