Peter, a UK based social media consultant considers reciprocal learning and business training. One of the most concrete ways to consolidate something you have just learned is to write about it, or to try to teach it to someone else. Either occupation requires that you arrange the information you have been given in a way that can make sense to a third person – and you can’t communicate effectively with a third person unless you fully understand what you are saying.
In terms of teaching staff and raising the level of overall knowledge enjoyed by the corporate animal, blogging has a two-way cut. Let’s say an employee has just watched an online video composed by another member of his or her organisation, which aims to train new workers on a specific aspect of the brand’s identity and business. Now let’s say he or she is requested, at the end of the video, to compose a blog for the corporate wiki describing what he or she has just learned and responding to it.
In the first instance, the act of composing this blog will force the employee to really engage with his or her subject matter. By asking him or her to make an active response, to say what he or she thinks after his or her learning session, the training team is also asking the new employee to get actively involved in thinking with the company.
During the composition of his or her blog, the knowledge doesn’t just go in, them – it gets thought about, turned over in the mind and finally conveyed as a synthesis of understanding and comment.
This is what we all do when we respond to news articles or other posts in our own social media streams. Well thought out comments (which tend to stand out from the crowd incidentally) become expansions of the themes initially raised by the media to which they are responding.
As such, the new employee’s blog may generate a ream of conversation, which helps further consolidate his or her learning – but which also strengthens the knowledge of other company employees. This happens when a more seasoned employee spots a slight error or responds to a fresh take. The more seasoned employee, by using his or her larger store of corporate knowledge to build his or her response to the original blog, both enlarges the knowledge of the original blogger and forces him or herself (that is, the more seasoned employee) to evaluate and explain clearly his or her own store of information.
Furthermore, the blog and all its subsequent conversations and responses forms a kind of feedback for the training team. If the blog is woefully off base, it is clear that the training team must evaluate its own knowledge and find more coherent ways of communicating it. If it is bang on target, then the training team is able to self-monitor and know that it is currently working in the right way.
Social media is about more than just training, or just expressing opinions. It is about sharing the combined power of everyone’s knowledge to keep on learning and growing.
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