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Teaching Collaboratively with Social Media Part 3

April 14, 2011

This is the last post in a series recapping a webinar I co-presented with Natalie Huha. Since the last post, Natalie has moved into a new role in the legal community. (More about that later.) Parts 1 and 2, we defined social learning and explored some of the technology being used to support social learning. This final post focuses on what firms are really doing or could be doing with social learning.

What’s REALLY happening in law firms?

Generational differences are real. And we need to understand that today’s associate is tomorrow’s partner and has a very different learning style that draws heavily on social networks and self-control of the learning environment. In fact, I had an opportunity this week to assist a client project team with a firm survey and facilitate some focus group meetings. The results from the associates were different than any of the other audiences in the firm. Overwhelmingly, they shared with us that it’s all about short classes and a strong preference to learn on their own or seek help from a trusted resource within their specific practice area. They are practicing social learning and building their own trusted social networks without even knowing it. Check out the chart below from the American Society for Training to understand what motivates our young associates to use social learning resources.

You shared, in the chat that accompanied the webinar, the value of knowledge sharing and the importance of breaking down the silos that exist in a lot of law firms. And, you pondered what will happen to firms and lawyers that don’t begin to share knowledge. Several shared that mobile has been the great equalizer for knowledge sharing and learning opportunities. Common consensus – things are changing.

What’s ahead?

On the horizon, law schools are beginning to explore new ways to instruct law school students. Of course, right now it’s just research and analysis, so don’t expect rapid changes. If you want to learn what New York Law School and Harvard Law School are doing to prepare for a new day in legal education, visit their official Future Ed site.  Not that there aren’t a few law schools in the UK trying out new things. Lawbore is a  wiki-based law student guide. 

What can we do?

In the meantime, we have to realize we are in the early stages of understanding how to use social learning in law firms. There is actually some science around how quickly we adopt new technologies.

We are in the innovator stage. I’ve had a chance to meet a very innovative law firm incorporating social learning tools into their training programs. It’s the early stages for them, but the take away is the willingness to try social learning and see if it fits. Hurray for innovators! Take a look back at the social technologies shared in part 2 and see what you can try. For now, participate yourself and start building your own social learning network. See what works and then start to evangelize the benefits to your peers and legal professionals who fall into the Innovator and Early Adopter category.

And a little more extra goodness

Before we end this look back at the social learning webinar, I wanted to share that my co-presenter Natalie Huha is now focusing 100% of her efforts on social media and social business in law firms.  She still blogs at LegalersWelcome, but you can also find her blogging at her new company’s website Just Engage.

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