Lisa Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine wrote an article called Learn from Rogue Tweeters: 7 Steps to Promoting Your Organization in Twitter. She writes that while organizations are trying to figure out how to use social media in a formalized ( more on that later) way, the rogue employee just does it, “it” being participating in mutually beneficial dialogue about the company with the general public . You rogue-types know who you are (from the article: “Mark plans to continue tweeting until someone tells him “that’s not your job.”)( I would add “or until he gets promoted or finds a sweeter gig.”)
Why does Mark (the employee in the article) tweet for OMSHR (the company in the article) when it’s not in his job description? My guess is passion, greater good (it’s safety stuff), dedication, or if-not-me-who? (he’s in IT). Only he knows why but OMSHR is lucky to have him. He is concerned however, that policies may eventually constrain him…he believes the current informal process works because he is “conscientious and diligent.”
THE CURRENT INFORMAL PROCESS WORKS. So why formalize social media (in my mind a highly informal way to learn)? Or should we be saying “non-formal?” (And go me! for not tripping over that stack ‘o buzz words.)
Let’s go on a little Google hunt.
Back in 2005, Stephen Downes had some comments on formalizing informal learning based on a CLO article
Of course, this [the writers had said that informal learning needs to be integrated into formal learning in the sense that it should be tied to measurable performance metrics] isn’t the point of informal learning at all – but I can see the point. It requires a very careful balance between respecting learner intentions, which in the end drive informal learning, and supporting corporate needs, which are addressed not through demand learning, but rather, by making appropriate informal learning resources usefully and widely available.
Respect your learners intentions and make informal learning resources available and useful.
Earlier this year Mark Oehlert, in response to a George Siemens post about “formally adopting” informal learning (vs. trying to make it formal…big diff), said:
why does it bother me that people/organizations think that somehow they need to “adopt” this mysterious thing called “informal learning.”? How about this…the principles of ID can’t handle it, IDs aren’t taught how to design with it, no one knows how to assess its impact and yet we feel compelled to somehow exert our control over something that largely grew up because we failed so miserably in other areas…
[ID should] stay the hell out of it.
Catherine Lombardozzi, also earlier this year,
I think that creating an informal learning strategy in support of business learning needs is mostly about aggregating, organizing, and making available a variety of resources that can support learning on a specific topic, similar to how I’ve talked about learning environments in the past. The strategic part is making decisions about what resources we’ll deliberately support – we can’t possibly corral all possible informal learning resources, and we need to figure out where to start.
Aggregate, organize, make available and decide what to deliberately support (formally adopt a strategy)
And this, recently from Mike Prokopeak talking to Lance Dublin about a third domain:
Formal learning typically refers to structured learning events and programs, while informal refers to unstructured learning that happens outside the bounds of traditional learning events, whether it’s over the water cooler, in the field or through a blog or discussion forum.
“There is a third domain,” Dublin said. “That’s the domain where you use all these informal tools but you use them with intention. You put enough structure around them so they have a purpose within the organization.” [He calls this non-formal learning] The opportunity lies in defining the middle between the two poles, Dublin said. Non-formal learning is structured, but not formal, intentional but not directed.
Structured, but not formal, intentional but not directed.
Lastly, a conversation I’ve been having in comments with Karl Kapp in What are the Results of Following an Instructional Design Process? in which I’m disagreeing with the idea of Web 2.0 ‘design’ entirely. Karl mentions templates, simplified (read standardized) tagging, guidelines, etc.
As designers, we need to provide templates for meaningful contributions of one peer to another, perhaps a sample blog entry to use as a model, or a method of standardizing contributions, a list of key words so the folksonomy is limited, something that ties strategies to contributions to encourage learning and retention of the content contributed. These elements add structure to the contributions but still allow creativity.
What’s your take? Ithink we need more Mark’s and OMSHR’s. Less meddling and a better understanding in the industry of what strategy is.