Collective Intelligence and Social Learning

Companies today face an acceleration in the pace of change fuelled by globalization and the constant flow of technological advances. In order to keep up, companies must continually reinvent themselves, which in turn affects their means of production and their messaging which then has a direct impact on the performance levels and training of their employees. As a by-product of all this technological change, training methods have also had to be reinvented and the number of methods has skyrocketed. Let’s now take a look at formal training which involves structured training like on-site training, e-learning, manuals and virtual classrooms, and informal training including training in pairs or personal research.

Thanks to the Internet, all it takes is a navigation bar to get answers to our questions. The amount of such information now readily available to us is what we today call collective intelligence. This intelligence can be external like in the case of an Internet search or internal when its information obtained through the help of tools which we call Social Learning.

Social Learning is a research platform which crystallizes all shared information. These elements transformed are into training components directly usable by a company’s employees. The advantage of this type of platform is that the collective intelligence now grows to include both that from cyberspace and from the company itself, which is more specific and usable by all of your resources.

Furthermore, Social Learning also favours engagement on behalf of all members of the group. By making their own personal knowledge accessible to everyone, your employees’ sense of belonging to a community grows which is an essential part of any successful company. This collaboration between employees also leads to higher quality final products and increased performance. Another strength of this approach how it can reduce the time needed for training by combining work time with learning time.

It also encourages the capitalization of informal knowledge at a low cost and with an overall experience that easily shared among employees. It is important to transform the way work is done and to create conditions that foster sharing of information in order to benefit from all the advantages Social Learning can provide in terms of communication, production and innovation. This occurs through four stages: listening and creating, participating in a conversation, co-creating as well as formalizing and sharing.

All learning approaches rely on tools and in this case, the digitization of collaborative work tools changes everything by easing the creation of online communities and learning groups that are either synchronous or asynchronous. Social Learning tools which include: a company’s social media network, knoolege platforms, shared documents like Google Drive, company blogs, the intranet and mobile applications are now more widespread than ever.

Over and above its practical and operational aspects, Social Learning allows for the collection and transmission of individual skills within any organization. In other words, human capital is what a company relies on for the overall knowledge and know-how of its employees. The transmission is a key element in the development of a company even though transitions can be tough to master. The loss of company knowledge due to retirements, maternity leaves or with the arrival of a new member is also avoided due to the ease of transferring knowledge from those previously in that role.

In conclusion, a company is a fountain of knowledge which Social Learning can then allow to be leveraged thanks to its collaborative tools which have become indispensable in the transfer of collective intelligence for the good of the development of the company. Social Learning encourages collaboration among employees with the main goal of improving performance which will in turn lead to individual and collective growth on both a personal and professional level.

Caroline Irrmann