Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business - Mashable.com Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business - Mashable.com

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business - Mashable.com

Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business - Mashable.com

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Classroom training isn’t dead, but it also isn’t the answer for every training need. Social tools are changing the game when it comes to employee learning. Organizations can create collaborative workplaces where employees can learn from each other instead of only learning in a formal setting or from the proverbial “company expert.”

For training programs to be effective, companies must use the right methods and medium for their training sessions and their audience. Given the popularity of social media, it only seems logical to explore how social media tools can have a positive impact on the learning experience.

What It Means

Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), defines social learning as “learning that happens outside a formal structure or classroom and is really the way people have always learned from each other. Social learning centers on information sharing, collaboration and co-creation.”

While the practice of social learning has been around for ages, we need a better definition of it for today’s workplace. Most of us have a vision for what formal classroom training looks like, so here’s one way to view the basic difference between informal learning and social learning:

  • Informal learning is a term used to describe anything not learned in a formal program or class. It can take place within groups or alone using activities such as reading or search.
  • Social learning is learning with and from others. It happens at conferences, cafes or online — with or without social media tools.

In the book Social Media at Work, written by Arthur L. Jue, Jackie Alcalde Marr and Mary Ellen Kassotakis, the authors share case studies of companies using social and informal learning for business success. For example, Oracle uses a key tool called Connect to give employees the information they need at the moment they need it. The tool is about more than just answering questions -– it’s teaching people how to make smart decisions about the business.

One thing is certain about social learning: It’s not a replacement for traditional classroom training. “There will always be some kinds of training that must be done in a classroom setting because of the requirements of the training or skill mastery demands,” Bingham explains. “Examples include certification, compliance, and deep learning -– this is happening in the classroom.”

Social Learning Benefits

Surveys of CEOs continue to report that recruiting and developing talent are their top concerns. In addition, ASTD Research notes that by 2020, nearly half (46%) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials.

Organizations have to gain an understanding of how a new generation of workers likes to learn, how they use technology and their preferred means of communication. This will be essential in creating training curriculum, development programs and succession plans.

Bingham says it’s possible to calculate the return on social learning, but it’s not the traditional return-on-investment (ROI) formula: “It requires alignment to what’s important to the organization, and often that includes retaining institutional knowledge, solving complex problems collaboratively and attracting people to your organization.”

Maria Ogneva, director of community at Yammer, says, “If your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, perhaps the impact metric you are looking for is the increase of speed of a response to a customer, and how collaboration helps you do that. For any social effort to be successful, it has to tie to a business objective.”

Barriers to Social Learning

Business leaders need to realize that employees are already using social tools -– whether it’s approved or not. Instead of prohibiting the use of social media, savvy business leaders should harness its power to drive business results. Bingham notes, “It’s important to make the distinction between a management problem and a technology problem. Most often, problems that occur with the use of social media are management problems.”

Bingham adds that he sees a concern that the use of social media tools may compromise proprietary informaion, or that issues related to intellectual property, company secrets or business strategy may be divulged by a workforce given social media tools. His recommendation?

“Organizations should have an intellectual property policy in place that outlines clear expectations -– and consequences for inappropriate activity. This policy should consider the multitude of possibilities for the use of an organization’s intellectual property.”

Once guidelines are in place, clearly communicate those throughout the entire organization. The goal isn’t to create obstacles to learning but a respectful, effective means to using social tools.

Implementing Social Learning within Your Organization

Before rolling-out a social learning strategy, take a good look at your company culture. Determine if the company is ready to incorporate social learning into its training and development strategy. Adding social just because it sounds cool isn’t productive for the workforce.

Any time a company is testing the new territory, it’s beneficial to start small. Find a program or an initiative that would be well-served by employing social technologies and let the people involved with it experiment and find what works. “Social learning has an organic nature to it, it can’t be forced,” Bingham says.

After using a new technology, evaluate the success of the program. Get feedback on three levels:

  • From the participants who used the social tool. How did it help or hinder the learning experience?
  • From the administrators of the social tool. Was it easy or difficult to use, explain to others and get participant involvement?
  • From the management team. What was their perception of the results gained from using a social tool within their work teams?

This feedback will help refine the best social learning methods to incorporate for future activities.

Social media platforms will continue to develop and evolve. More and more individuals will start using them for their personal brands and professional lives. Employees will demand simplicity and expect workplace training to incorporate the tools they use on a regular basis.

Would you like to see more social in your training programs? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Should Small Businesses Follow Everyone Back on Twitter?
- Are You Falling into the Pricing Trap?
- How to Take Your PR Pitches to the Next Level

Pressure on Forth Ports to commit funds towards cost of Leith docks upgrade - Herald Scotland

The Sunday Herald has learned that the £130m upgrade of the port of Hull is being funded by Associated British Ports (ABP), with no financial input from the public sector. ABP is spending the money to unlock an £80m investment from German group Siemens to build a factory at the port which will assemble nacelles – the central parts of the tops of offshore wind turbines, where electricity is generated.

Experts address growing demand for Islamic financial products & services - Saudi Gazette

MANAMA – As the Islamic finance industry continues to be one of the fastest growing components of the global financial system, with an estimated growth rate of 15 percent - 20 percent, international markets are witnessing an expanding demand for Islamic financial products and services - even beyond the traditional markets of South East Asia and the Middle East.
The Islamic funds and investments industry has seen steady growth over the past decade due to the growing global demand for Shariah-compliant financial products and services and a significant increase in the number of institutions structuring Islamic investment products.
According to Ernst & Young the Islamic funds industry grew to $58 billion, achieving a growth of 7.6 percent in 2010.
Held under the theme "New Growth Horizons: Expanding The Global Footprint of Islamic Funds and Investments", the two-day 8th Annual World Islamic Funds and Financial Markets Conference (WIFFMC 2012) starts today (May 20) in Manama, Bahrain.
Leading players, industry thought leaders and key regulators in the international Islamic funds and investments industry for gather for discussions that will seek to capitalize on the new opportunities and chart the future direction of the global Shariah-compliant funds and investments industry.
The event, held under the official patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain, will be officially inaugurated with an opening keynote address by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, Executive Director - Financial Institutions Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain. Speaking ahead of the event, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker said "as with other forms of Islamic finance, the Islamic funds industry has grown to become an increasingly substantial segment within the global financial markets and has gained significant interest as a viable and efficient alternative model of financial intermediation. Growing awareness and increasing demand for investing in accordance with h principles on a global scale have been the catalyst towards making the Islamic financial services industry a flourishing industry. This is also a reflection of the increasing wealth and capacity of investors, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to seek and invest in new investment products that serve their needs." – SG __

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NDB reports strong financial results in the first quarter 2012 - Sunday Observer

NDB reports strong financial results in the first quarter 2012

NDB reported strong financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2012 and has made significant progress during the period.

The Banking Revenue for the quarter was Rs 2,064m, an increase of Rs 611m, or 42 percent over the corresponding period in 2011.

The Profit After Tax during the quarter increased by Rs 506m or 115 percent compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.

The reported earnings included one off equity income of Rs 271m on the sale of its investment in a 100 percent owned subsidiary, NDB Investment Bank Ltd (NDBIB) and of the 5 percent direct holding in AVIVA NDB Insurance PLC, to its subsidiary Capital Development and Investment Company PLC (CDIC) in March 2012. NDB continues to position itself as the only Financial Services Group in the country, with subsidiaries and associates in Investment Banking (locally and regionally), Stock Broking and Wealth Management, which make up the Capital Markets cluster and Insurance.

This divestment to the Bank's 99.6 percent owned subsidiary CDIC was carried out as part of the overall Group's corporate restructuring exercise, with which, CDIC now positions itself as the diversified financial services investment arm of NDB Group.

Accordingly, these investments will complement CDIC's existing strategic investments in AVIVA NDB Insurance PLC and NDB AVIVA Wealth Management Ltd.

Chairman of NDB, Hemaka Amarasuriya, said, "We are excited about our first quarter results.

We were able to continue the strong momentum built in 2011, and will seek further growth opportunities for the Bank throughout 2012.

Our discipline in the execution of our strategies has produced excellent first quarter results. Our focused management on all of our banking operations is expected to deliver solid growth into the future and enhance shareholder value."

The Bank's Profit After Tax growth after excluding this one-off income shows an increase of 52 percent compared to the 1st quarter of 2011. The Basic earnings per share were Rs 17.96, an increase of 68 percent over the 1st quarter of 2011.

The NDB Group's Profit Attributable to Shareholders for the quarter increased by 19 percent over the prior period.


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