Learning 2.0 has officially arrived. However, there's debate over
whether it's a legitimate evolution of existing e-learning
paradigms, a convenient way to group learning-enabling technologies
together under one umbrella, or a cynical attempt to distance
ourselves from what we view as the failures of "learning 1.0."
In talking with corporate practitioners, learning 2.0 hasn't really
taken hold in mainstream corporate learning environments. Given the
excitement learning 2.0 tools generate, that may come as a bit of a
surprise. The two main reasons for the slow adoption of learning
2.0 are about volume and control.
One aspect of learning 2.0 that proponents frequently tout is the
amount of information that is freely available to anyone who wants
to take advantage of it. But for folks who are tasked with running
corporate learning organizations, this abundance of information can
be intimidating, if not downright terrifying. While many learning
executives say that they know they should be paying attention to
and taking advantage of new technologies offered by learning 2.0,
they're simply too overwhelmed with information to spend time
sifting through even more.
The other aspect of learning 2.0 that makes organizations a little
uncomfortable is the openness of the tools. Ironically, of course,
that's the very characteristic that gets many practitioners
excited: the notion that this technology is the great equalizer;
that everyone can now access and disseminate information; and that
everyone can exercise a degree of control over their learning.
Is this unease with learning 2.0 tools a harbinger of a gap between
corporate learning and the rest of the world? Will organizations
stay mired in the e-learning (and instructor-led) paradigms that
have proven less-than-successful? Or is there a way to mitigate the
legitimate concerns of companies while maximizing the learning
advantages of blogs, wikis, and other new-generation learning
Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of the new tools
It can be easy to fall into the trap of using new technology simply
because it's new (and, in the case of learning 2.0, free). While
it's true that new technology creates new opportunities for
organizations and learners, not all tools equal. Ask yourself what
you're trying to do and where your organization would really
benefit. Do you need to share information and expand knowledge, or
are you looking for better ways to create intellectual property
across the organization? Do you need one-way communication, or will
deep dialog better serve your needs?
Select the right tool for the task
Once you know what you're trying to do, selecting the right
technology is easier. For example, if you want workers to
collaboratively author documents, you need to select a tool that's
optimized for that task, such as a wiki. If you are looking at ways
to disseminate information without much dialogue, consider a blog.
And, if you're looking at ways to really integrate the new tools
into your learning environments, consider a platform that will let
you incorporate more than one tool while giving learners the sense
of an integrated toolset, rather than a collection of websites and
applications. If the sheer openness of learning 2.0 tools is a
little disconcerting, consider using a platform that lets you
exercise a degree of control over authoring and disseminating the
content, one that incorporates the functionality of blogs and
wikis, as well as other management capabilities, is a good choice.
It's difficult to pay attention to everything, and easy to feel
like you're missing something important. The first step towards
limiting the amount of information you need is to define what's
important to you and your organization.
Once you have a clear focus, limiting information and filtering
ambient noise, information that may be tempting to incorporate, but
not central to what you're trying to accomplish, is easy. Of
course, once you know the type of information you want to
assimilate, take advantage of the tools that let you compile it
quickly, such as RSS aggregators, bookmarking, and so forth.
Finally, consider not only the information what you want, but also
what you want to do with it. Collecting information simply for the
sake of collecting is an exercise in futility. Think about how you
want your organization to capitalize on the volume of information
learning 2.0 tools deliver to your doorstep. Engage learners in
discussions about the content that you are creating, and challenge
employees to share innovative thinking by way of discussion forums
and collaborative technology.
It's naive to think that learning organizations can look the other
way and hope that learning 2.0 won't have a significant impact on
how people will learn in the future. While the unfamiliarity of
this next generation of technology is a little puzzling,
organizations who take the opportunity to embrace these tools, and
thereby exercise a degree of control over them, stand a greater
chance of successfully incorporating learning 2.0 into their