At last week’s Learning Ecosystems conference in Orlando, we had the pleasure of hearing animation legend Glen Keane talk about how to embrace technological change to enhance creativity. It was a fascinating talk culminating with a demonstration of virtual reality animation that was gorgeous and mind-blowing (see this video at 2:39 for a taste of what we saw). It got me thinking…

Even though the tools of animation have changed dramatically over the years, there are elements of first-rate animation that remain the same: the power of story, the techniques of perspective, the impact of emotional resonance, the simple grace of lines coming together to form a picture. Honing techniques is what has made Glen Keane a rock star in the animation world, and applying those techniques using new tools just takes it all to the next level.

Something similar can be said regarding social learning as well. Our tools have changed, but the core of what makes social learning work has not. When we try to encourage, support, promote, amplify, and/or engage social learning in a digital age, there are research-based frameworks that still apply in terms of understanding what brings people together and the range of activities they engage to accomplish deep learning. Knowing these frameworks can help learning and development professionals add real value to the conversation about strengthening the people part of a comprehensive learning strategy (such as designing learning environments).

While the modern world appears increasingly impersonal, in those areas where knowledge really counts, people count more than ever.
~ John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

As a learning geek, I really enjoy digging into these theories and frameworks, but I also try to translate these into practical advice. To that end, I’ve summarized some of the key facets of social learning and a list of recommendations for how to effectively promote it. You’ll find these recommendations in my page of curated resources on social learning.

Social learning graphicI believe that we can’t push people into social learning, but we can give them a helping hand by amplifying productive activities and minimizing barriers.

The frameworks I am sharing have helped me to identify what may be getting in the way and where a nudge here or there might be most useful. I hope you will find that true as well.

Add questions or comments here, and I will update the curated resources page over time.