Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Learning Community, Peers and Outside Experts

While strife with technical challenges, Nancy White and John Smith’s presentation at LearnTrends 2009 (LearnTrends 2009 Recordings) provided some really interesting food for thought. In some ways this relates closely to the post on Selling Learning Communities.

By way of background, Nancy White and John Smith are gurus around all things Communities and Networks. I’ve worked with Nancy to create the Communities and Networks Connection which helps me continuously learn. And I keep a copy of their book Digital Habitats; Stewarding Technology for Communities next to my computer.

The central idea of the presentation was something that Nancy called triangulation. Now, I’m not 100% certain what Nancy meant by this, but I interpret the idea to organize learning community events where you bring together three groups:

  • People inside the host / sponsoring organization who have a particular need
  • Outside experts
  • Outside peers

You (or an outside facilitator) facilitates a conversation around a particular need.

Let’s say the need is – Where and how should we apply social learning in our organization?

The facilitator would get the people inside the company to define the problem. Then would facilitate sharing with peers and with experts around the issue.

I’ve seen similar kinds of peer sharing at roundtable events. And it’s really powerful. Adding in the experts would make it even more powerful.

I could imagine where this could be an ongoing sharing dialog that would cross several organizations. For example, you could pull together L&D staff from 10 companies together into a community and then have people like myself and George Siemens who could help facilitate critical issues and conversations and draw in additional outside expertise as needed.

To me, that sounds like a really powerful model.

Great stuff Nancy and John.

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