As a member of ASTD (American Society for Training & Development), I get their monthly magazine and this month they have an article on Social Learning (August 2011, page 50). As defined by the author, social learning is "...learning with and from others. It's also about using social media tools to learn informally."
Because the younger generation of workers have been brought up with technology, this means that technology will increasingly influence how we manage and help employees learn. For the moment, due to the large number of Baby Boomers still in the workforce, there has to be a balance between those who didn't grow up with technology and those that did, with respect to how much technology is used and how complex the technology is. However, there is no question that technology will be an ongoing partner in talent development.
Social learning tools can involve wikis, micro-blogs, shared workspaces, etc. Added to that would be online mentoring and coaching systems that provide a better structure for learning and a more focused approached based upon competencies. In some respects mentoring and coaching systems help move social learning from informal to formal. This should mean a better return on investments on the part of the organization implementing social learning tools.
The challenge facing OD, Talent Management/Knowledge Managers is to keep up with the right technology for the organization's needs while at the same time avoiding fads that are short term and don't produce results. This may seem relatively obvious; but with a younger workforce used to new things and constant changes in technology, one has to balance demand to institute a technology with what will actually improve talent equity in the organization.Convisum | Dreamstime.com