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Teaching Collaboratively with Social Media Part 1

February 9, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure of having a dialog with Natalie Huha, Learning Services/User Support Manager at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. We were talking about Social Learning and collaborative learning experiences during an ILTA webinar attended by our peers in the ILTA community.

We focused on answering a few key questions our peers were asking. I’ll share with you some highlights from the webinar including the collaborative comments from the attendees in a series of posts.

  • What is “Social” Learning?
  • What are “Social” Technologies?
  • What’s really happening in firms?
  • What are some examples of social learning?
  • How do we overcome objections and identify obstacles?

What is Social Learning?

Natalie and I believe social learning is best described as collaborative, immediate, relevant and in the context of one’s work. You shared:

  • Social Learning is any method that uses people’s desire to follow a group, be part of a community, communicate and collaborate.
  • The convergence of learners, subject experts, coaches, web resources, knowledge communities and related tools.
  • The natural, informal process of learning through peers. Due to Social Media it becomes a natural, yet structured method of learning through peers and affiliates.
  • Social Learning can help overcome geography; power users in one area can share with others regardless of location.

Why Social Learning?

Through my own social network, I discovered a thought-provoking blog post that made me pause and think about knowledge (I believe knowledge sharing is a key form of learning) in law firms and how difficult it can be to access it. Appropriately, the blog is called At the Intersection. In the Bottleneck Blues, Pam Woldow writes about the knowledge “black holes” that frustrate those young timekeepers stuck in the bottle. Those black holes include lack of knowledge about client information and constantly reinventing the wheel. Bottlenecks can be remedied by communication and free flow of information which are the key benefits of social learning/media tools. Productivity can be boosted and job satisfaction increased when our young timekeeper feels like a part of the overall legal community and has easy access to information he/she needs to work effectively.

Still not sure social learning is here to stay? Consider how it’s found its way into our pop culture. Did you happen to catch Grey’s Anatomy last week? The character Dr. Miranda Baily is using Twitter as a learning tool for young doctors. As Dr. Baily is in surgery, a character named Lexie is tweeting status updates and reading tweeted questions from young doctors following the surgeon. Just like we see in a lot of organizations, someone at a high level finds out and blocks the use of Twitter citing the potential risks to the organization. In this story, it is the Chief of Surgery and the storyline falls along some of the other stereotypes about social media as a gossip tool instead of a learning tool. As happens in Hollywood, there was a happy ending and through his own experiment, Chief Webber experiences the immediate benefit of having a social network of experts. A patient is saved and the good doctor is converted. If only we could convert everyone in an hour. (smile)

Extra Goodness

Natalie and I engaged our peers in a tweetchat during the webinar and we hope the conversation will continue. Feel free to read the transcript at If you are on Twitter and want to participate use the #iltasl hashtag in your tweets.

Next post, we’ll discuss the question: What are “Social” Technologies?


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