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Social learning is here to stay

The wisdom of the crowds, filtered with the insights of many, is here to stay

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“@abhijitbhaduri, @anand__pillai

@gautamghosh @ester_matters I am thinking of starting a HR twitter chat. What say?” That was the historic tweet that led to the launch of India’s trending twitter chat: #indiahrchat for HR professionals. And you know a chat has arrived when a community of HR professionals dislodges the hashtag #SRKrocks with #indiahrchat at an all India level. As someone mentioned, a case of real rock stars dislodging screen rock stars.

I have been moderating this chat for a year and one thing I can tell you is that social learning is here to stay.

If we are to cope with the complexity and uncertainty of the times that we are in, if we have to foster faster learning and peer mentoring based expertise, then social learning needs our sustained attention. In a world where employees are interfacing with the internal and external environments at different levels and varying degrees of intensity, it is only the social element of learning that allows us to blend the insights into a coherent whole provided it is facilitated effectively. If organizations will continue to follow the “HiPPO”*– ‘highest paid person’s opinion’ – in the room, then their ability to catch onto trends, sentiments and insights goes down.

Every single person who acted as a guest expert on the topic and all those who jumped in with enthusiasm to experiment with this new form of learning represent a new generation of leaders and learners. They know that learning is going to be flat, messy, fast paced and community based. The days of the sage on stage are over. The wisdom of the crowds, filtered with the insights of many, is here to stay.

Why did this effort take off and what might it teach us about the power of communities and what keeps them engaged? These principles are applicable to all forms of social learning not just the ones that are technology enabled.

Authentic conversations lead to engagement

Abhijit Bhaduri (CLO, Wipro) took a chance on being the first guest and Anand Pillai (CLO, Reliance) followed suit providing the much needed momentum to a fledgling community. It wasn’t just that they were willing to put faith in an idea whose time had come, but the way they involved their networks via invitation and the promise of a learning space. Gautam Ghosh (Phillips) socialized the idea further and help adopt tools like Storify allowing us to capture the learning for posterity. The leaders supported the community rather than insisting on a given path. Guests like Sunder Ramachandran and Jardine Lloyd, a learning expert, evangelized things further and took the e-learning to the real world involving students and co-workers alike.

Community sets the direction

Unlike traditional models of learning and sharing, the topics of the community are often suggested by the community itself. The chat on Coaching by Gurrpriet Singh (Country head YSC India), D&I by Esther Martinez (Editor, People Matters), Flex work by Sairee Chahal (Co-Founder Flexi moms), Social recruiting by Sarang Brahme (Capgemini), and leadership development by Elango (CHRO MphasiS) were suggested by the community.

This social experiment led me to create a new term T-MOOC or a twitter-MOOC that might be the only one of its kind at this scale in Asia for HR folks. We do hope you will join us this year as we take the chat international because social learning is here to stay!