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Monday, February 01, 2010

SharePoint Social Learning Experience

I had a great conversation last week that sparked an early stage idea for what I think would be a wonderful way for learning and development organizations to leverage SharePoint better. 

HP Web 2.0 for Marketing – Social Learning Experience

The concept is probably easiest to understand by considering what HP did around their course on Web 2.0 for Marketing.  You can find more on this by going to the LearnTrendsSharePoint in Corporate Learning Recordings.

The basic concept was that HP’s learning organization wanted to help their marketing professionals get up to speed on the implications of Web 2.0 for HP’s marketing efforts.  Of course, that’s an interesting learning problem in that the answer around “implications” is not defined. 

The L&D organization created a social learning experience that brought together 60 marketing professionals from across the organization.  They established a goal of having the group produce a summary of what they found and what Web 2.0 could mean for the organization.  In many ways, this was a facilitated work task more than a learning experience.  The L&D organization provided some instruction on the basics for how the sessions would operate and some information around Web 2.0, but a lot of the effort was discovery by the marketing professionals themselves.

In the picture below, you can see some of the mechanisms they used:


  • Social Bookmarks to share resources they found
  • Discussion Boards to ask questions and have discussions.
  • A blog that helped spark conversations around key topics.
  • A wiki that served as a repository for the resources they collected.
  • Virtual class sessions to share what they were finding
  • Learners were encouraged to do quick screen capture movies to explain their thoughts around particular uses of Web 2.0 technologies and share with the group.

The results were pretty incredible for HP.  And it’s exactly this kind of facilitated social learning experience where the result is somewhat a work objective that makes a lot of sense.

SharePoint Social Learning Experience

Based on the above description, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with what I think would be a fantastic learning opportunity for L&D organizations who want to understand what it means to Use SharePoint in their organization as both a system for facilitating the work of L&D and as a tool to be used as part of learning solutions.

The idea would be to:

  • Set a goal to produce a presentation and set of recommendations to be presented to senior L&D management
  • Get a cross section of L&D professionals and possibly others within the business
  • Setup an environment that will be used both as a sandbox and as a support for the learning experience
  • Introduce SharePoint (and/or other technologies) to participants
  • Facilitate activities and discussions that ultimately lead towards the presentation and recommendations

Of course, there’s nothing preventing variants of this being done across multiple smaller organizations.  And certainly there are lots of external professionals that likely would make sense to either help make this happen or include as third party experts as part of the learning experience.  See Learning Community, Peers and Outside Experts for more description of possible design elements.

I also think this is a great way to help build understanding of social learning within an organization.

I’m hoping to get feedback on this?  Does it make sense as a model?  Are organizations already beyond this or should it actually be a facilitated discussion around learning technologies period, not just SharePoint?  Will it make the most sense as SharePoint 2010 begins to roll out into organizations?


V Yonkers said...

What I like about this is that it expands on sharepoint, with a non-linear model. Share point is the base, but other technologies can be expanded from it.

Norman Lamont said...

I've got a bit of a dilemma about Sharepoint. We have Sharepoint in our organisation. It's fairly locked down, and the only way to set up new areas are TeamSpace and ProjectSpace. If you set up a TeamSpace you get forums and wikis and a document store, not much else. No social bookmarking. You can't alter the appearance or the rather clunky way the forums work. We've had several attempts over the last year or so to get forums running for particular communities without success. On the other hand, we in L&D have the luxury of an externally hosted site where we can set up forums and other software that more accurately resembles what people might have used outside. The downside is you'd have to go to the learning site to access it and, in order to post, login separately. So I'm struggling with whether to embrace the restricted Sharepoint because it's there or set up what might be a better system under our control in parallel or maybe even in competition. The target groups, once decided, will obviously influence the decision, but the principle is a tough one to decide.

Dan Pontefract said...

Yes, and I think it's only the beginning with respect to SP, particularly the 2010 release. (

Tony Karrer said...

Norman - don't you think that your organization will open up SharePoint more as things progress?

Anonymous said...

I think that this SharePoint model is great for corporations. The model makes sense as shown in the picture you have above because it is not a procedural model but very open-ended. This would be useful for work but at the same time, it is great from eLearning within a company. As the V Yonkers mentioned this, other technologies can and more than likely will be expanded from it. It would make sense for SharePoint to roll out into organizations in 2010.

Eric Sauve said...

Great article Tony - at we are bringing learning communities to SharePoint environments. We have some examples and case studies on our site if of interest. Cheers, Eric