The Integrated Classroom and the Role of the Educator


Social learning in organizations

It may be easiest to begin discussion on the value of social learning by first looking at its antithesis which is learning that is not social. While this may seem to paint more traditional forms of learning into an unfair corner it is nonetheless helpful when considering the contrasts between social and more traditional forms of learning.  Moving to a learning model that includes social learning is partially a matter of adjusting to societal realities and also a matter of exploiting technologies that simply have not been available in years past.

New realities

It is estimated that the Internet of Things (interconnected devices) will grow to 50 billion devices by 2020 (Rosenberg, 2017).  By 2025 it is estimated that 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials (Winograd & Hais, 2016).  As of 2014 human knowledge was doubling every 13 months and was expected to reduce to every 12 hours (Schilling, 2013).  Our economy is now global so what happens in Asian markets is felt real-time in the United States. All of this points to an evolution of information that is taking place before our eyes.  This drives not only a necessity to increase learning capabilities in order to keep up with the rest of the world and technology but also an opportunity to expand the learning of everyday people in ways previously impossible.

Importance of social learning in organizations

There was an advertisement produced some years ago by UPS that serves as a good illustration of why social learning is important in organizations – things are moving quickly and globally all at once and as such, there is both the need and opportunity to educate our employees more quickly and effectively.  Social learning is people learning from one another so it is not a new phenomenon.  What is newer is the idea that not all training and learning needs to come via formalized methods and that in most circumstances social learning is as legitimate as formal learning.

While formal training and learning will always have its place, its Achilles heel is that it can be slow, costly, cumbersome and may not take full advantage of available experts and practitioners (Kosinski, 2015) .

Social vs Formal learning

Consider the difference between these two funnels. Social learning, because it gathers information from many possible sources is represented by the funnel right-side up,  collecting learning from a much broader audience.

Invert the funnel and one has a picture of formalized

Image retrieved from Creative Commons (n.d.)
Image retrieved from Creative Commons (n.d.)

blue funnel-309721__340

Image retrieved from Creative Commons (n.d.)

traditional training and learning where the learning is tightly controlled and limited, creating a hard to avoid choke-point.

Because of greater access to others with greater or different expertise, encouraging social learning using social media can empower employees to solve problems and learn best practices more quickly.  Thus, the most likely effect of  organizational social learning is an increase efficiency and speed in problem solving.

Organizational culture

According to the Journal of Knowledge Management, up to 90% of organizational knowledge is stored in employees’ heads (Smith, 2001, p. 311).  Many have experienced the struggle when someone leaves the organization taking all of their corporate knowledge with them.  While social learning may not be a cure-all for the learning needs for any organization one of the things it can do is help create a culture of sharing

Image retrieved from WordPress (n.d.)

Most people feel good when they have been able to answer a question or share experience that helped someone else (Muzzell, 2017). Additionally, the employee who found the information they needed (and perhaps started a productive relationship with another employee in the process), feels good about getting what they needed.  That employee is likely to replicate that behavior when given the chance.   Any organization will benefit from a sharing culture where employees feel free and encouraged to collaborate and contribute to the success of others.

Social learning facilitated by social media can create opportunities to augment a trainer’s efforts and impact (Bozarth, 2010).  For example, a trainer may choose to use a tool like Twitter to facilitate dialogue amongst students or to receive real-time feedback from students regarding the effectiveness of training during conferences.  Trainers and organizations alike may benefit as learners establish or join communities of practice where they are able to learn from others in a particular discipline.  Employees who attended a conference together may establish a Facebook group to stay abreast of others’ projects or to ask questions of the group.  These educational backchannels can create powerful connections between trainers, employees and even leaders.

Establishing ground rules in social media

Establishing ground rules from the beginning is an important step in using social media for organizational learning.  Employees’ agreement to abide by guidelines should be recorded for the sake of accountability.  The guidelines for social media use are intuitive and should include the following at a minimum:

  • Purpose of social media use in a professional environment (Lauby, 2009)
  • Importance of preserve one’s own and the company’s online reputation (Lauby, 2009)
  • The need to protect sensitive information (Lauby, 2009)
  • Importance of considering the feelings of others and the tone of messages (Lauby, 2009)
  • Importance of sharing information and comments that are helpful (Lauby, 2009)

Working… together

Image retrieved from WordPress (n.d.)

Few would disagree that the photo above would convey a very different feeling if it pictured a solo individual.  When one feels like they’re part of the team it feels good and social learning and social media are about people making connections with people.  An integrated approach where training, professional development, social learning and social media are combined, creates an environment where interpersonal relationships can develop.  This encourages free collaboration and communication and benefits and improvements to production and the health of the staff are a natural result.  One of the challenges in creating a social learning environment is social learning can be slow to build because it is essentially a culture change that requires trust and effort on the part of employees.  Additionally, there may be some who may feel that social learning will not yield credible learning thus they prefer a more controlled or formalized way of learning and problem solving.

Risk ¤ Strategy ¤ Reward

Every day we face risk in both our personal and professional lives and in many cases we may not even be aware we have made any decision to embrace or avoid it.  But what every business leader knows is that not all risk is bad and not all risk should be avoided.

Image retrieved from WordPress (n.d.)

Nonetheless, when considering implementing social learning facilitated by social media some concern over risk is prudent.


There is some risk for organizations embracing social learning and social media, but while playing it safe may bring some sense of comfort, the problem is, it can also stifle creativity and miss out on valuable contributions of employees. The decision here is a strategic one; which is a greater risk, a possible loss of productivity because of social media use or the risk of distancing your company from collaborative communication that can drive training, development and innovation?

Implementation strategy

Having a good strategy is key to good execution.

  • Ask questions
    • How are current training programs offered?  What are some areas of training and development where integrating social learning and media may be a good place to start? (Pandey, 2017).
  • Set goals for social learning and media integration
    • Consider implementation on a small scale if possible to learn lessons and adapt to the organization before wider implementation (Pandey, 2017)
  • Seek out advocates and early adopters (Pandey, 2017)
    • Gain insights and ideas
    • Leverage their influence and voice to encourage adoption within the organization
  • Choose a social learning system or platform (Pandey, 2017)
    • Consider hiring a consultant to fully understand the available options
  • Encourage dialogue
    • Give and request feedback on social learning and media (Pandey, 2017)


The world has changed significantly in just the last 30 years and changes in technology have created an exponential increase in knowledge, communication and accessibility to learning.  While formal training will always have its place, creating a social learning environment as part of an overall training and development strategy has tremendous potential to transform an organizational culture from one that is siloed and limited to one that drives productivity through both facilitated and organic collaboration and sharing.  The risks associated with social learning and social media are outweighed by the rewards.  As relationships are built trust increases and knowledge flows more freely creating an atmosphere where people have the tools to leverage knowledge and expertise from up, down and across the enterprise.

Image retrieved from WordPress (n.d.)

Starting with careful study, questioning and collaboration with leaders, trainers, and employees, an organization will take well-advised first steps in building a collaborative, communicating and growing organization.

About WordPress

What is WordPress?  “WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today” (“What is WordPress? | WordPress 101 Tutorials: iThemes,” n.d.).

What is fantastic about WordPress is its ease of use and in particular, the ease of embedding videos (like what has been done in this presentation). Because it is web-based a trainer can create content, embed training videos, pose questions and read responses – all without sending anything more than a link to the recipients via email.  Because WordPress is a blog, it is also a repository of previously created content.  This means that an employee can access the site as often as they like to reference information on previously shared training or professional development.

Powerful – and cost free!



Bozarth, J. (2010). Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning.

Ithemes. (n.d.). What is WordPress? Retrieved from

Kosinski, M. (2015). Is Social Learning Better Than Formal Training? [Infographic]. Retrieved from

Lauby, S. (2009). 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy. Retrieved from

Muzzell, B. (2017). Sharing is Caring: How to create a culture of sharing best practice. Retrieved from

Pandey, A. (2017). 5 Steps To Implement The Social Learning Strategy In Your Corporate Training – eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

Pixabay (n.d.) Funnel [image].  Retrieved from

Rosenberg, M. (2017). Marc My Words: The Coming Knowledge Tsunami. Retrieved from

Schilling, D. (2013). Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours. Retrieved from

Smith, E. A. (2001). The role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace. Journal of Knowledge Management, 5(4), 311-321. doi:10.1108/13673270110411733

Winograd, M., & Hais, M. (2016). How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America. Retrieved from






















Veteran Transitions

  • This blog is intended to educate hiring managers and businesses about the value of veterans and their challenges in transitioning to civilian life.  It will provide useful transition information to veterans as well.
  • What is a blog?  Blog is short for weblog – a webpage containing information on topics of interest.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of blogs
    Image retrieved from (n.d.)
    • Advantages – quick and easy to start and user friendly for writers and readers.
    • Disadvantages – some may prefer more formal writing or prefer reading information from a reputable source versus an individual on their own.
  • Ways blogs could be used for training
    • It is an easy way to broadcast information and learning.
    • It can be used for social learning when other contribute to the conversation (Shaw, 2013).
  • Best practices for someone who is new to blogging
    • Determine your purpose
      Think before you write! Image retrieved from



    • Do your research
    • Write well – make it a pleasure to read
    • Consider well and guard your online reputation (Levenson, 2017).
Accuracy Matters Image retrieved from (n.d.)
  • Impacts of content on your reputation
    • Innacuracy can hurt your reputation as well as potentially hurt others
    • Poor writing, poor grammar and use of slang can discredit your work
  • Impacts of reader’s comments to their online reputation
    • Innacuracy can hurt their reputation as well as potentially hurt others
    • Poor writing, poor grammar, and use of slang can discredit their comments

Here are a few sample blogs to check out:

The Value of a Veteran

  • Frequency and timeliness of posts – many posts from 2011.  Ceased in 2015
  • Moderator – unknown
  • Level of engagement by blog followers – minimal
  • Credibility of the blog  – good.  Author is identified, intent to market training products from The Value Of a Veteran clearly identified, articles are well written and substantive.

From the Green Notebook

  • Frequency and timeliness of posts – most recent post was April 2017.  Frequency was every week or two but it varies.
  • Moderator – Joe Byerly
  • Level of engagement by blog followers – there are responses on most of his posts but not in large numbers.
  • Credibility of the blog  – good. While the blog does not seem to be widely read, it would not be because the content is lacking.  The blogger is well spoken but also conversational with a real-world tone and has had his work published in a number of reputable publications.

  • Frequency and timeliness of posts – the blog is continuously updated
  • Moderator – unknown
  • Level of engagement by blog followers – unknown.  Blogs have comment capability but the articles are e primarily informational in nature.
  • Credibility of the blog  – good. The is an organizational versus a personal blog.  It is primarily informational and has many sponsors and educational resources.


Blogs: Evaluating Blog Credibility. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Flaticon, (n.d.) Chat free vector icons designed by Freepik [image]. Retrieved from

Flaticon, (n.d.) Thought free vector icons designed by Smashicons [image]. Retrieved from

Freeiconspng, (n.d.) Accuracy icon [image]Retrieved from

Levenson, L. (2017, January 13). B2B blogging best practices for 2017 | Alaniz.        Retrieved from           practices-for-2017/

Shaw, J. (2013, February 15). Training Blogs – using the web to train the world – training and development. Retrieved from