Social Networking and Organizational Learning

By:  Kathleen Iverson

Prior to the Internet, the last technological innovation that had a significant effect on the way people sat and talked together was the table (Shirkey, 2003).  The web has transformed the way we communicate, learn, and work, and in the very near future, it will transform the way we manage organizations.  Web 2.0 technologies including blogs, wikis, social networking sites, and virtual worlds are more personalized and interactive than first generation web applications (Web sites and email) and offer opportunities for proactive participation, sharing, connectivity, and collaboration, the very underpinnings workplace learning, and performance.

Web 2.0 tools allow employees at Dell, Starbucks, and IBM to connect with each other to share ideas and information and form communities.  IBM also uses social networking to capture expertise throughout the organization and 3M uses it for the sharing of ideas and research information among experts (Bersen, 2008).  Gensler, Honeywell, and Nestle are using both external (YouTube) and internal streaming video to communicate culture, teamwork, and share best practices.  Web 2.0 has gone beyond blogs, wikis, and video to include a virtual world known as Second Life.  Second life hosts conferences, learning, and social networking events for hundreds of organizations as diverse as Harvard University, IBM, and Cisco.  The attached PDF, Web 2.0 Learning Applications contains links to a number of common social networking products and their potential uses in organizations.   Although this list is not exhaustive, it is a good starting point for those who want to learn the talk or delve deeper into the various technologies.

Points of Discussion

Is your organization utilizing social networking strategies?  If so, which ones?  How do you think social networking will or should impact organizational learning in the future?  What are the challenges ahead?  What are the benefits?  Add a comment to let us know what you think..


  • Speaking in terms of growth and development, I believe that social networking can become a huge factor in improving the way an organization is run. Developing outlets in which employees all across a company can discuss areas they believe are lacking and praise any areas that are excelling. Employee opinions often go unheard and unaccounted for, and sometimes its the employees themselves that hold back. Through social media, this can be changed. A blog, for instance, where an organizational can communicate on several issues within the company; identified or anonymously. Another benefit of social media innovation in organizational learning, is the ability to create interactive online workshops. I believe that methods such as the ones I have listed could be time and money saving as well as help a great deal in the development of a company and its employees. A realistic barrier I can think of is the mean age group of employees and their comfort level with working on social media. Also, physical meetings will always have their advantage over online interactions.

  • To me, it seems that organizations that do not utilize social networking are missing out and falling behind. My organization uses social networking, but almost solely for use by our customers. As the largest non-government employer in the world (you can probably guess my employer), using social networking to connect employers and even for training/activity purposes could be very beneficial. I think the biggest obstacle to this is getting everyone onboard.

    • Thats exactly what I thought! Social media could become revolutionary on the employer/employee end. The biggest problem I seen as well was getting everyone comfortable with using these methods.

  • Is your organization utilizing social networking strategies? If so, which ones? How do you think social networking will or should impact organizational learning in the future? What are the challenges ahead? What are the benefits?

    My organization is starting to use social networking more over the last few years. We have a Facebook page, Twitter, and YouTube. I am not sure about any Web 2.0 at this time because we are just starting to use this form of sharing information as an organization. I know that we will probably keep improving on this social networking aspect to stay relevant as a organization and be able to compete on a different level as a governmental agency. The challenges that are faced in any organization is money and staying properly funded to keep up with advancing technology around us. The benefits will be getting the recognition needed to remain one of the top organizations.

  • My organization uses some Web 2.0 technologies, however they are primarily used to talk to our customers, i.e, more the realm of social media. Within the organization, social networking is still in its infancy stages and is handled primarily through Skype for Business and collaboration tools like SharePoint and WebEx. Internal social networks are still face-to-face groups; I’ve checked, for example, to see if our Hispanic Employee Network has a Facebook or Twitter, and I can’t find one.

    I think there is still an undercurrent of distrust among leadership that these sorts of technologies reduce productivity instead of boosting them. But we’re getting there!

  • Is your organization utilizing social networking strategies? If so, which ones? How do you think social networking will or should impact organizational learning in the future? What are the challenges ahead? What are the benefits? Add a comment to let us know what you think.

    Our company just turned on or Social Engagement function in our lms. We have Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram accounts, but they are not used for our employees to engage with other companies. I think we should be using social networking to talk as a company and with our sister companies. If we open the lines of communication it will help us be better companies. The challenge with this could be people are protective about their jobs and accounts and they will will not engage in the network.

  • I work in a school district, and we use social media to help communicate with parents and students. My school has a Facebook page and a Twitter account where staff members post announcements and share pictures of school events. Next year, we are implementing a Learning Management System known as Schoology, which will have a large impact on learning in our District. Most assignments will be provided through Schoology, along with quizzes, tests, projects, and discussions. The challenge is getting every student and teacher on the same page when it comes to technology skills. Some staff members are not familiar with technology, so changing to a virtual classroom requires hours of training. Parents and students also have to complete training courses at the start of the school year. The benefits are better communication with students and families, and we are preparing students for a future that’s based on the use of technology.

  • My company does not use any type of social networking for employee engagement. At one point many years ago they set up an internal website for employees to go for information but it was not well received. I think part of the issue was how it was rolled out and how little it was updated.

    I would love to see something like this utilized at my company, but I just don’t see people using it. Right now I think my company handles far too much paper. Setting up something like this would be a great time saver, if I were able to get people to use it. Everyone is so busy, it’s hard to convince someone to take the time to learn something new. I could also see this being beneficial for some of the training that we do.

  • The organizations with which I work do not currently use this type of social networking for training or development. It is likely due to the IT concerns within nuclear power plants, but I have never asked why they are not used, so this is only conjecture on my part.

    I should also point out that this is the first blog I’ve ever been on. So, obviously, I’ve never inquired to the value of using this approach.

  • The organization that I recently worked for was just beginning to use social networking strategies in its learning programs. In our internship development program, we included activities that required students to post on our internal networking site. We also created groups for them in that same site so they could virtually work together on group projects. We did similar things in a couple of our leadership development programs. Recently, we also used LinkedIn during one of our large leadership forums. At the beginning of a session about social media we asked participants to create a positive post about the forum on LinkedIn. Then, at the end of the session we asked participants to raise their hand based on the number of responses they received to their post. We were teaching them about the power of the internet as it relates to customer service and how posts can go viral. The session was only 45 minutes long and some participants had over 50 responses in that short time. It opened eyes on the power of the internet and how quickly things can go viral.

  • My current organization doesn’t encourage the use of social media amongst staff. In fact, our social media accounts are “monitored” if logged into from a work station. The organization has an official blog, Facebook and Twitter feed but they are administered by a communications staffer. I do believe there is great value in utilizing the web tools to create clearer lines of communication and reduce unnecessary email communication. Allowing any and all staff to post on a social media or intranet page can uncover good and bad business practices that may have otherwise gone unseen. Depending upon the organization, close attention has to be paid to appropriateness of posts and maturity of thoughts placed on the business site though.

    • Yes, I think that although there are many benefits to using social media, I do think it could also cause great harm, especially to a company. It’s a good idea to monitor social media accounts. My father actually told me about an incident at his place of work where a few months ago an employee was frustrated about something and went online (I believe on his Facebook if I am remembering correctly) and bad-mouthed the company. This can obviously cause word of mouth to spread, and negative connotations will be made toward the company. I believe this can be quite unfair in most situations and can really hurt a company, especially when it is a smaller start up all just because of one disgruntled employee.

  • At my current organization we use social media (Facebook, Twitter, instagram) as a means of communication and advertisement for recruitment and retention of student athletes. Our Basketball Program has accounts on all 3 sites to keep our followers up to date with recent news, upcoming games, upcoming giveaways and more. We use the sites to post pictures of our players in action and even videos of our training sessions. This has proven to be a huge retention tool for our current players because they want to have access to the images and feel appreciated for their work. we also use the sites for recruiting purposes by adding and following perspective athletes and showing them support on their pages. It also gives them a chance to see more about our program and keep them interested.
    In today’s day and age this is the “norm” 5 years ago this may have been seen as being innovative but now it is a prerequisite as a program.
    There are several benefits to social media but the most beneficial aspect for us is that it is a free way of getting more exposure to the program. This is huge for small college programs like ourselves because we do not have the same budget or resources as division 1 athletics do.
    One major issue that will continue to grow with social media is educating our student athletes and staff on the importance of being appropriate about what is posted to both team and personal sites. This is a growing issue that could jeopardize not only the programs or the individuals credibility and integrity but the credibility and integrity of the university as a whole.

    • I agree, social media is essential for organizations, particularly those without extensive resources for marketing. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • I agree that students and staff need to be educated on social media appropriateness. I feel like this is a growing problem. What is posted online is technically there forever. One must know how to be professional and proper so that credibility is not lost.

  • I work at United Parcel Service(UPS), and by it being a worldwide company it does uses some if not all of social networking strategies. For instance, since most of the work done in the operation is manual labor sometimes there are videos posted on our internal website to give extra training to employees. These trainings can be posted sometimes from all over the world and any employee can see them and comment on how they feel about it. Also, there may be mandatory conference meetings. Instead of just getting on a regular conference call now UPS uses an app similar to facetime that now employees can have meetings and see who they are speaking with. In addition to the previously mentioned, UPS has its on facebook page and have videos on youtube. On its on website it has a blog and also has its on free app to stay connected with customers.

    Social networking will impact organizational learning in the future because technology will only get better and more easier to use, so companies will have the ability to train and help employees with issues they may have. Also with any new training companies can use social networking to bring employees together faster and in a different way.

    The challenges are going to be that people are going to lose sight of coming together physically I think. If companies use social networking strategies to connect and communicate more than actual face to face connection, that particular company may lose its initial personal concern and relationship for its employees. All employees do not want to have a connection with an organization they work for through social media, sometimes it might feel too impersonal, which is sometimes the cause for people not working at their best.

    The benefits for using social networking like for my company UPS, is that since it is a fast paced environment and we are motivated by timeliness and efficiency, social networking helps with promotions faster, becoming engaged with customers and employees easier, provides learning tools and training from all over the world. Social networking could potentially help the company grow and also make more money.

  • My place of employment does not use social media, probably because of the nature of the work. They do have a webpage on the internet and an intranet for employees to get information on benefits, training and contacts.

    The challenges faced today and in the future would be one of confidentiality and ethical. Although social media is great for many groups and organizations, sometimes it is not in the best interest of the company or its clients to be too social.


  • My organization uses multiple social networking strategies including blogs, wikis, facebook, and twitter. They are used to network with multiple constituencies for many purposes. They are used for instruction, student communication, dissemination of University information, and so on. I think that they should continue to be used as they are an efficient way to increase organizational communication and learning. This is an area that is moving quickly. There are new technologies being selected and implemented regularly. It’s an exciting time!

  • Social networking and social media have proven essential in my daily work and I love the connectedness, collaboration, and access they bring to work and community relationships, networking, and collaboration. We maintain several accounts on facebook, tumblr, twitter, pintrest, instagram, as well as on our national extranet and internal intranet. All of these do take time and intentionality while offering a huge pay off for us. For instance, from the perspective of community engagement and connectedness, our tumblr blog has topped 11,000 followers and allows us to share information that is then easily commented on and reblogged. We have an open ask box for questions and our users engage with us heavily. The platform allows us to connect with people who have fairly personal questions that can be difficult for them to share in a traditional classroom or at a community event. From a staff-to-staff social learning perspective our extranet allows us to have a massive community commons for our national organization that is based on exchange of materials, messages, images, ideas, shared learning, best practices, information updates, etc. We have gone through several permutations of the platform (some have been just awful and difficult to use!) and have arrived at a platform that truly works for us. It allows for workgroups as well affinity groups and simple access to things that make us all better at our work. The value of a face-to-face meeting of a collaborative team cannot be overstated and neither can the value of social learning through virtual spaces. By the nature of my work and the geographic spread of my colleagues a blended approach has proven essential. We have a virtual “university” as well as common new employee orientation materials available; to me the value and impact of social learning, networking, and connectedness is already here and will only continue to find new ways to help (and frustrate!) me as I engage in my daily work. The challenge of simple misunderstandings via the loss of tone — sometimes a terse quick note can send a conversation into a tailspin without intending to do that. From a more public social perspective flame wars are just awful. The manner in which a topic can get highjacked and dragged down is profound, immediate, and time consuming. To me the opportunities still outweigh the challenges however social learning/networking remain immensely value tools for connection, sharing, and collaboration.

  • I’m currently attending school full-time, but my most recent employer used Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and netForum (a customizable membership platform). Although the timing and content of posts was managed well, there wasn’t a very clear strategy for usage beyond advertising educational opportunities. There was often a disconnect
    between the members and the content.

    As more people in the workplace connect via social networking sites outside of work the more it will be expected in the workplace. The transition to learning is already
    happening on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube via article sharing, online discussions and video tutorials. I think in the future social networking and learning will continue to merge and there will be a combination of the informal information and idea sharing that’s prevalent today and formal learning. This is already occurring somewhat on sites like Kahn Academy and TED Talks. Some organizations are including different learning styles in their definitions of diversity. Maybe social networking and learning will utilize approaches like Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences model to address these learning styles via social networks to create more customized learning experiences. This should be very beneficial to learners. The challenge would be to find an accurate assessment tool to anticipate the best approach for the learner. Designing customized approaches could also be costly for organizations.

    • Very cool connection between Multiple Intelligence Theory and social networking! I have heard of social media being used to support various learning styles, but I wonder if certain types of learners would be more in tune with social media delivery.

  • I personally believe social networking in organizations is very important because it allows us to learn from different people across the board. I think sometimes we get so focus on learning from one certain way but social networking is very important. It is great to have an idea and look on different blogs, and social media sites and see that other people have the same idea or even better maybe have a different perspective on an idea in which you had. I love learning from others and in this day and age social media is a great way to explore that learning objective. My job does social networking a lot and I have learned a lot from it as a professional.
    Cortez Clay MSHRM

  • Social Media integration and utilization is not a strong suit of the organization I currently work for. And by no means is it damaging or harmful to the effectives off the mission, yet. The nonprofit I work for has only been established for about 5 years now, really small, and still developing long term branding strategies. As of now, our only Social Media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the organization website. These platforms are not being used to their fullest potential, but this is with good reason.

    Since we in the working stages of brand recognition, structure, and implementation, we have the luxury of being intentional about how we share our work with external constituents or internal support systems. We are in a position to accurately define what makes most sense for us, what speaks to the culture and values of the organization, while also acknowledging and respecting the staff capacity for maintenance of Social Media platforms.

    It’s understood that Social Media will greatly impact the way we engage with one another and the external world. Accessing intellectual property quicker than before, streamlining data and educational content for various (audio, visual, kinetic, etc.) learning styles is become second nature to new developments. It is like to propel these organization to reach an extensive amount of individuals who support their work.

    However, as Social Media takes greater form and requires a larger presence in data sharing, people are soon to become even further removed form forming interpersonal relationships. At some point, the “face-to-face” interactions become slim. Capturing content and accessing knowledge will be directed by a simple click on an unknown link with limitless information, or a short video with no real people actually in view.

  • Between “table” and “internet” was the telephone. Phone conversations started a trend of communication without seeing facial expressions and other tools of communication in body language. For many years we went without “emoticons” and video. The tools of Web 2.0 without a doubt brake through all barriers of communication and collective knowledge. We have learned to communicate without body language – we use emoticons, selfies and videos (even cats and dogs send signals).
    Before Web 2.0 tools only professionals, for example in the medical field, had access to knowledge databases that was compiled by other individual’s experience. With all new inventions comes great responsibility (just like Spiderman’s dad said about great power). Collective knowledge becomes accessible by creating expert communities. The explosion of opportunity is quite overwhelming and we see a trend that in certain industries the knowledge base needs to be broken down in digestible parts. I have been working in the real estate industry for 15 years and I have seen a trend where agents rely on social media for leads, contract looping and communication. Some of these channels are great and allow for more productivity. But Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, ActiveRain and Google+ can lead to collecting more data than is necessary. We develop a “busy” status combing/raking/searching though data without getting our job done. This trend is being seen in other industries as well. I think we have a huge opportunity here for professionals in training and development to organize and manage “virtual” knowledge. Fast access, pin pointed queries and relevant data have become key components in companies data strategies.
    What a great topic this is!
    Ute Westphal
    MBA student with a concentration in T&D

  • My current organization (a medical specialty society) is using Facebook and Twitter. Both accounts are really only active around our live courses and the time leading up to our Annual Meeting. I think social media is underutilized in my organization but it’s also due to the age and demographics of our members. One of the challenges for our organization (and in the workplace) is the growing workforce and the vast difference in levels of comfort in using technology. Physicians who have been practicing for 30+ years are against us utilizing any sort of technology that goes beyond didactic lecture. The fellows and residents who are new to the profession are younger and more willing to use technology and have actually expressed discontent with how little we use social media and e-learning.

    One of the things that will benefit our organization is that with time, those individuals who are less inclined to use technology are reaching retirement age and individuals who are newer to the profession and more open to using technology and adapting to change will be more receptive to new methods when we decide to implement them.

  • My Organization is very risk adverse and we do not use a lot of social networking methods. We do have an internal IM program; however, no one uses it. As most companies do we use GoToMeeting and Webinar. Recently we started using Face Book as an organization, but I have not seen any real use besides posting that we have new products.

    I think in the feature it maybe harder to impact organizational learning due to all of the social networking. I feel that people are losing viable social skills because we are always on the computer and with so many employees working remote it will be harder to connect them to a team.

    But as a benefit I do see that social networking is allowing for people to come together in a variety of ways on a central topic. This is very important because with social networking you are able to see that your issue is not your issue alone. As a Manager this is important because it offers you a wider network to pull best practices from when dealing with difficult situations.

  • I agree that social networking has had a significant impact on organizations. There are many remote employees working for my organization, including myself. We utilize WebEx for virtual meetings and Skype for Business to connect throughout the work day. These technologies allow individuals living all over the world to communicate easily and engage in team projects effectively.

  • I often get frustrated with the requirement that is social networking in today’s businesses. This is not a resistance to change but more of a desire for a protocol. The IBM example is a positive one but I feel as if too often companies just want to use social networking because of the need to use it that has been created.

  • My organization uses Social Media, as a matter of fact we just had to update our email signatures to include links to all of our departments social media sites. We also have a LMS, but we are in the process of moving to a bigger LMS that incorporates the whole organization. I think its a good idea to embrace the day and time we are living in. Social Networking is where its at.

  • The LMS my organization uses has built-in Web 2.0 tools and applications. There is a Facebook-type feature where employees from all of our sites (approx. 6000 employees) can connect with each other, post, share photos, etc. We are able to blog, create Wiki pages, podcasts, webcasts and communities. Despite having these wonderful capabilties this site is woefully under-utilized. I was on the LMS committee and we did our best to lead by example and generate buzz for the site in each of our locations. Our committee has its own community and meeting agendas are posted there rather than emailed. We have also created discusssion forums for some of the leadership programs we developed internally but there was a great deal of resistance to using it for some reason. I am currently a participant in Cohort 2 of that same leadership program and sadly the discussion forum has been dropped from the curriculum. I think part of the cause for it under-utilization may be generational, we have 4 generations of employees in our organization and also, perhaps, because we have so many computer systems that we use to do our jobs, and almost none of them “talk” to each other, I’m wondering it system burnout could be a culprit.

  • I believe that understanding and using social networking for communication is extremely important for internal organizational growth, as well as the expansion of external partnerships. Social networking provides the opportunity to exchange ideas and business action items in a timely fashion to vast audience. I think the positives certainly outweigh the negative aspects.

  • If one is not careful, it is very easy to get left behind in the technology age. is totally new to me.

  • I work for a non profit organization and there is a use of social networking but it is very limited and only geared toward members outside the organization. They seem very resistant to use within the organization and how it would benefit us as employees. We have tried to present to management the benefits and how it could bring all of our centers together as well as other agencies but things haven’t changed much. I can only hope that they jump on board soon because the way technology is changing and how well we work with it and other organizations will impact our success and longevity. I know it will be a challenge but it will be worth for us in the long run.

  • I work at LexisNexis, in the Business Services organization. We are just now rolling out an official program with LinkedIn. We purchased thirty licenses and now we will train the designated sales people on how we want them to represent the organization. In addition to this, we have market planners who send out excellent emails and blog article links to people who register. Our marketing department uses Twitter and Facebook and they have serious guidelines for anyone who wants to include their association to our company. It is a difficult job to ensure everyone represents your organization as you desire. I think that is why we are encouraged to be very cautious with our social networking.

  • My organization is a non profit member based organization. They started using social media (Twitter, Facebook) to answer questions from the members as well as from potential members. The response was so overwhelming that they had to create a dedicated unit to make sure that some would be able to provide a response 24/7. Staying on top of new technology is very important to the success of our company. My company is not always the first to pick up on the latest innovations but eventually they come onboard. They have started entertaining the idea of mobile learning. This would be a great benefit to the employees as well as the members. They are in the market of educating the community what better way to do this than to capture the audience that stays abreast of the latest technology. The company will be respected for showing the members that they are willing to do what is necessary to remain in communication with them at all times. Some of the challenges that we may encounter will be funding and resources.

  • Yes, social networking has changed the way we communicate. Not only does everyone have a table, we each have a seat at the table. We are internationally connected and any company who chooses not to involve themselves via social networking will loose opportunities on many fronts.

  • My organization uses social media for various reasons, not just to promote or organization and events. Not too long ago, it was not too uncommon to receive a pile of signatures, a petition for something or another. now what we are seeing is those petition hitting the social networks and bring attention to many more people. It has also allowed us to see the comments that people post, often being able to read what the different viewpoints are on a particular issue and analyze the comments to see where the differences lie.
    What I will wonder for the future of Social Networking is, what is the limit? How many networks are too many? Even with this article I am offered about 10 ways to share it.

  • Since I am a FTS I will use Roosevelt University as my organization. They do utilize social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and different blogging sites. I feel like this is a great way to connect with staff, student body and new prospective students.

    Clearly mobile learning is not a fad, it is how we are functioning in education and in the workplace. I think it will continue to grow and we will evolve in how we use different social media sites and apps.

    The challenge I see is making the technology available to everyone and being able to convert data/text to these different platforms. By doing so, this will open up a whole new inclusive world for more people.

  • My organization uses social networking. Since we have lots of remote employees we use Google Hangouts for meetings or conference calls. We also use Adobe Connect. As an online learning organization we promote the use of blogs in our courses. We are not restricted from accessing the internet, so we can research most anything when we need to.
    I think with the a lot of employees wanting to go remote, at least 1 day/week, social networking is really going to effect how everyone stays in touch. I think it is a huge asset for organizations to use wikis or blogs so employees can share their thoughts and interact and learn from one another. My last company used SharePoint to house internal resources and learning materials, but was creating their own wiki for IT enhancements. They were also using a site called INXPO to stream live company-wide meetings and announcements. They were also using INXPO as a new site to access learning content, activities and videos. These spaces were great for the people working in them, but gaining buy in was difficult because 1) business units are so busy they don’t have time to learn about the new technology 2) there was no mass communication or implementation 3) they don’t know whats in it for them or when they need to access it.
    Overall, I also see challenges with budgeting (for things like virtual worlds) and going through the overwhelming amount of options out there today. Sometimes its just too time consuming trying to read through and learn about all of them.
    The benefits are that these things bring together people from all different locations and creates a sense of community. Through interactions we all can share thoughts and ideas and learn from one another.

  • he majority of my organization does not use social networking due to tight network security. The main team that does use this type of networking is our sales force. It helps them to stay connected to other organizations and network. They can also learn different trends within organizations and the workplace in general. The sites they are currently using are Linkedin and Twitter. On a personal level many people within our organization use Linkedin. Outside of that our network has extremely tight security and they lock down allowing the associates to access any other social networking site. I am hearing rumors that we may soon be able to access YouTube because there are a lot of resources, an example I recently found was how to build graphs in excel. What our organization is trying to do is create similar systems internally to create sites similar to Wikipedia, Twitter and Linkedin.
    I see a challenge that people are experiencing is around when they would access one site verses another. There is also social networking etiquette that needs to occur. It can also be very time consuming where people are spending a lot of time focused on the sites verses focused on the work.
    I also see benefits in using these sites. There are a lot of great resources for learning and sharing data. I also have found that within our organization it helps to network with others across the different business US based and internationally as well.

  • Darlene Sheppard

    I looked at the linked you provided in your post above (Web 2.0 Learning Applications.) As I am being introduced to more technology based sites as I write this post I was drawn to one that I am unfamiliar with. It is the wikipedia site. In reading the description I was supprised to read that anyone can make changes. I will try to become more familiar in the near future but this seems like a real stretch to allow others to make changes. Is this site considered a success and if so how can one tell if the information they are reading is correct. I was impressed, however, with the fact that it is available at a touch for many countries.

  • The last company I worked for had an Intranet where employees could post items for sale, leave comments and seek information. I believe because it was internal only, people felt comfortable posting messages. There is a lot of time spent on training for the job. It would not be a bad idea to offer training on social networking. I think if people were introduced to social networking showing the advantages of using them and how to use them correctly, more people would feel comfortable posting, tweeting and texting. There are so many horror stories in the news about social networking. Perhaps being educated could help parents, who could then educate their children on the dangers and the positives of social networking.

    I think once understood by all, social networking is going to have a huge impact on how we learn in the future. The school or work day will not end once we leave the building. I can see students interacting with each other discussing homework, projects and everything else. Teachers could continue to interact with their students or have conversations with teachers all over the world, sharing ideas on new ways to use technology in the classroom. Professionals will have their field related sites to share ideas. I can see lawyers working on cases from home instead of spending long hours on the job away from their families.

    Keeping up with technology is going to be a challenge. There will be a great demand for experienced engineers to design and maintain high volume networks around the clock. Infrastructures must be capable of handling high traffic continuously. This can be costly.

    If our evening becomes an extension of our day, when will it end? Will we begin to spend more time on the computer and less time with our family? We see how texting, email and data phones are consuming our lives now, what would it be like if in the future?

    Social networking can close the communication gap between management and employees. Employees can post anonymous messages alerting management to problems without fear of retaliation. Projects can be worked on from home with less time spent at work. The need for a permanent brick and mortar facility for work could possibly be eliminated, saving money for the company. The possibilities are endless. The future is going to be interesting. We should face the fact that we can never stop learning if we want to stay current today and in the future.

    • I like how you examined the pros and cons of social networking. I agree, it can be consuming and we’ll need to work harder to carve out non tech time to spend with others or we’ll become SM junkies! Here’s an interesting app that blocks internet use for a period of time–

      • Thank you for the information on I will pass this information on. I think after the semester is over I am going to see if I can stay away from the computer for 24 hours. I’m not sure if I can really do it but it will be interesting to see if I can.

  • Wow, technology is changing very fast at some companies. My last position ended in December 2009, for an International company that makes parts for auto industry including Onstar and Sync. For the projects that I did we used only classroom training, the only “social networking” that we did was there is an IM like tool within Lotus Notes that we used to contact other people in the company.

    If the company was using anything in the way of other social networking for training it was not be used company wide.

  • At my current organization they are trying to drive social networking. The president spoke to us yesterday and commented on the fact that he was friends with some people on Facebook. An employee had spent a week on vacation and the day he got back into work posted ‘work, work, work,…’ as his status. The president said he commented back that the guy had been on vacation, of course he was going to have to catch up! He then spoke to the fact that he knows we’re all on Facebook all day and if that’s the way he has to communicate with us, he’s going to. We also recently created a Facebook app to target employees. This app is to drive employees to complete their performance appraisals. The company has also created a Yammer group for internal employees. Right now this is in the beginning phases and it’s going to take awhile before this is the main communication channel for employees.

    I think it’s a great avenue to drive traffic to learning. It’s going to impact training for awhile in that many organizations will adopt it and attempt to make it work in their organizations. It’s also a great avenue for feedback or to look for gaps where training is needed.

    While people may use social networking in their personal lives, it’s going to take awhile for them to adopt it as a workplace norm. Those that are entering their first jobs will be more open to using it, but others who have been reprimanded for the use of internet/social networking at work may be more apt to resist.

    The challenges are that though social networking is fun and easy (for most) it isn’t necessarily the most effective form of training. As many companies have learned, just because information is out there doesn’t mean it will be used or retained. So the challenge is recognizing the place for social networking in your organization and using it appropriately and effectively. If it is misused or misrepresented it will fail and it will be even harder to get buy-in a second time.

    The main benefits of social networking are giving people a voice and connecting them with others. Anytime you can give an individual partial ownership of something they will be more apt to include themselves.

    • I believe another challenge of social networking for an organization is devoting resources to its careful and thoughtful use. Think about the term–SOCIAL networking. While the majority of what is developed and deployed is done with the goal of professional advancement and learning, where is the line? Where does networking become social? I think that’s why I ‘m a bit leery of it–professionalism can bleed into personal information that can easily imperil your professional credibility. Even for external uses, someone on the staff needs to be in charge of monitoring discussions and postings. Not an easy task.

  • The previous company that I work for used Xanga and Facebook as a way for employees to keep their own blogs and discuss what happened daily. Each department in the store had actually created their own Facebook and it was not so much for interaction between employees but it was for customers to see what each department had to offer and it would let the customers know about upcoming sales.

    I think that social networking will impact organizational learning in the future by making it easier and more convenient to either teach a class or even find an answer you are looking for. It will make it easier on the trainers because they will be able to interact with the group virtually rather than in a lecture class and it allows people from all over to be a part of it. A challenge I can see is that in a learning setting there might be a few who are not committed in the beginning of the training session and do not follow along until the very end.

    • Hi Jennifer
      I wanted to comment on your last sentence. I have had the opportunity to conduct and participate with online training. As a participant, it is hard to refrain from multi-tasking.

  • My organization is also a non-profit professional association, and we’ve been trying to get our arms around social networking for the past couple of years. We have a staff member who is responsible for our Facebook page, we try to Tweet at live meetings, and we’ve dabbled a bit in Blogs, but the acceptance has been leukwarm. At our annual conference in two weeks, we will have our very first App, which will provide specific information about the conference and its educational sessions, as well as enable Twitter conversations, etc. Our members are financial people in a healthcare setting, which seems to put us two strikes down–not only are they only mildly receptive to technology, their organizations are often behind fortresses of firewalls (because of the potential for confidential information to be breached). It’s been an uphill struggle, but we continue to try.

    • Thanks for sharing your challenges Susan. SN is really in it’s infancy and many companies are still very leary of its use. They see it either a waste of employee time or a potentially lethal form of negative buzz, so it’s difficult to move forward. It sounds as if your company is making a good effort to move forward and I think it will eventually pay off. It can take a year or more to implement a solid SN strategy even when users are interested and motivated.

  • To engage employees my company uses social networking software from jive. We use it for many different reasons. I would say the top three are connecting, communicating, and collaborating. It allows us to share knowledge and build professional networks. We use it to coordinate a project team and centralize information about that project. We can also use it to research ideas and find subject matter experts.

    I believe social networking will enhance learning in the future. The benefits I see are that we have the ability to keep trainings current & relevant very easily at a lower cost. We are able to gather feedback quickly from participants. We also have the ability to utilize more tenured employees to help share best practices and knowledge. It is also a great way to meet new people and contacts to help you in your own development.

    The biggest challenge I see in using social networking for training is not being able to read body language like you can in a classroom type setting. Someone’s words may not truly express their understanding and/or interest.

    • Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for sharing. This is the first time that I have heard about jive. Do the employees actively use jive? Do they find that it is user friendly? Does it allow easy access to meaningful information?
      Regarding your challenge, I also find that to be the case with virtual or online communication in general.

      • Hi Roxanne,

        To answer your questions, yes employees actively use it. The company I work for has over 35,000 employees. I can’t say that everyone uses it, as it is still relatively new. However, when I show this tool to representatives and how they can use it, they are all very excited. It is very user friendly. I haven’t taken the tutorial that is offered on how to use it as I found it to be very intuitive.

        It does allow the user to access meaningful information. For example, we have a women’s employee resource group in addition to many other employee resource groups. This group of women is fantastic. Those women in leadership positions that I would generally not have access to or visibility with are now accessible. All share their experiences, share documents, post videos from conferences, etc. that can aid in one’s own development. And that is just one example, they are many groups/divisions that are now accessible to all.


    • Sonia:

      I think you are on target with your observation about the lack of information from written communication. I wonder if more applications that allow for live interaction and video will help alleviate that problem.


  • Is your organization utilizing social networking strategies? If so, which ones? My previous organization utilized wikis, blogs and RSS feeds in their daily productivity. My organization was an innovator with technology and tries to be ahead of the curve. Even the HR department utilized linked in to connect and recruite individuals.

    How do you think social networking will or should impact organizational learning in the future? What are the challenges ahead? What are the benefits? I think that social networking impacts organization learning as it provides more options for delivering training in such a complicated corporate world. With employees in offices all over the country and some corporations not even having headquarter locations anymore, social networking allows employees to connect on their time no matter where they are. However, the challenges that we face with social networking are validating the information, being able to control the information provided, keeping all training and documents up to date and live and finally ensuring people are receiving and understanding the training being provided to them.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      The organization where I employed is a global organization with headquarters located in the US. It is sometimes challenging keeping up with the different timezones when I have to implement instructor lead online training. We do offer on-demand training as well which helps a lot. Having elearning also allows the students to be able to access the information at their convenience and even afer the training.
      Some of the challenges you speak of also remind me of some of my concerns with enrolling in an online graduate school program. This is my first experience with online training. However, in my limited experience I have found that it has been a positive experience and a meaningful exchange of information.

  • My organization does not currently use any internal social networking. Of course, we have several Facebook pages but those are gearned to our clients more than for internal employee use. We have just started experimenting with a “facebook” type application called “Chatter”. Chatter is a software that we can use/purchase an upgraded version that would work with; a CRM system we are considering purchasing. My department (Sales Enablement) is “testing” Chatter to see if it would fit our sales organizations’ needs as we move foward with new technologies. Many people are avid “email” users for sharing information and communicating, so I do find it difficult to use Chatter…for example, if someone posted a document 2 weeks ago, I would have to fish through 2 weeks of chatter on “Chatter” to find it. If it’s in my e-mail, I can easily assign “rules” to it and it would be auto filed for be based on those rules. My biggest complaint with technology (as you will learn) is that it just takes too much time to manage it if there is no organization. Coming of age musically in the 80’s, all I can think of are two song titles that kind of sum up how overwhelming it can get…”Jammin’ Me” (Tom Petty) and “Too Much Information” (Duran Duran). Both songs have nothing really to do with technology, but, the speed of how much stuff we can get exposed to by different mediums (at the time- think commercialism and cable tv with 200 channels.) Okay, so I digress.

    • Hi Sue,
      Will your organization use Chatter for information sharing or can you use it as a tool to help with organizational learning? I agree that there is a lot of information out there. Often times, it can be difficult to find what you need. I strongly believe that for employees to benefit from the technology or tools that they must be able to easily access the tool/ technology and be able to readily find the information that they need. It the technology and/or tool are too cumbersome, employees won’t use it. And neither the organization nor the employee will benefit.

      • Excellent point Roxanne about usability. I believe this has contributed to the rapid growth and acceptance of apps like Facebook and LinkedIn which are relatively easy to use. Also, in our field is the issue of deep learning–how can we facilitate and capture learning from social networking activities?


    • Excellent points Sue and I like your song choices as metaphor for your take on technology challenges. Just the name Chatter would put me off–I agree that we need to find a way to streamline our social networking and technology activities. Hootsuite is a web based app that allows you to manage your social media see


      • I haven’t looked at the link you posted, but as I read through some of these posts, my mind quickly goes to the MSHRM program, especially the points about Organizational Culture and Organizational Psychology. It seems to me, that some of these technologies will really affect more than just “train on this new technology and let’s use it” it really becomes tied a lot to what makes sense for the business and their culture. One thing that keeps coming up over and over is the strategy….that really seems to be key (not that I didn’t believe it, the wattage on the bulb over my head just went from 40 to 100).

  • Is your organization utilizing social networking strategies? If so, which ones? The organization where I am employed uses social networking strategies. The organization is a large, global pharmaceutical company with many divisions and subsidiaries. Therefore, I can only address those items that I am personally familiar. The company uses Yammer, Wikis, Team sites, Protonmedia (a virtual 3D environment for training, meetings, and conferences), ATT connect for slide/document sharing and audio conferences and virtual training, and Community of Practice(s).

    How do you think social networking will or should impact organizational learning in the future? Social media such as discussion forums, communities of practice, etc. can be used to reintroduce the social elements of traditional classroom learning i.e. reflection, debrief, sharing of opinions and perspectives, and discussion of best practices in a broader platform and reinforce learning even months after the formal learning event ends. These tools provide invaluable way for employees to obtain and exchange information and to network.

    What are the challenges ahead? Learning whether formal (traditional) or through the use of social networking should be aligned with and support business goals and objectives. Organizations must have the appropriate strategy, technology, tools, resources, and culture to support the successful use of social networking in the workplace. The culture must support self-directed pursuit of knowledge, collaboration, and exchange of ideas.
    Organizations may view social media tools as entertainment which may lower productivity and that these tools aid in the dissemination of rumors, old practices and outdated information rather than demonstrate helpful business purposes. Many of these concerns with using social media tools can be mitigated through policy implementation. However, these technologies should not be too tightly controlled otherwise employees will not use them.

    The training department must have the necessary skills, be empowered to develop strategies and adopt social networking tools, technology, and resources to support learning methods in line with business goals and objectives.

    What are the benefits? Once the right processes, resources, tools, and technologies are in place, social networking can enhance work place learning and may result in improved job performance. Employees can access information and resources more efficiently when they need it.

    • My organization is using social netowrks, they are created microsites for their members to blog and gather information. Just this year they rolled out online learning workshops for employees. They problem with my organization is there are silos and many departments have no idea what the other departments are doing. Some departments are building communities and the fact that my organization is not united on this transformation they are making towards socialnetworking. There is a lot gaps and pitfalls which make many of the efforts useless.

  • Hi Susan,
    I certainly agree with your comments. In addtion, with today’s rapidly changing business environment company’s must change how they facilitate the transfer of ideas and information to their staff. Shrinking budgets, information overload, the demand for immediate information, work style of the millennial generation, globalization, and an increasingly mobile and diverse workforce make it imperative that organizations develop work place learning strategies that leverage social networking to enhance interaction and collaboration.

  • Both organizations I currently work for utilize social networking strategies, one more than the other. My “day job” has a Facebook page, uses Twitter, Blogs, etc., etc., extensively.

    The challenges that lay ahead are for those that are not embracing technology and social networking, because social media is most certainly impacting organizational learning. More and more people have schedule overload. If they can attend an hour meeting/training, without having to spend two hours in travel time, they will be more willing to participate. We can see the demand increase by watching businesses like Citrix, currently known for their products of GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, have added another product, GoToTraining. Plus, the growth in the use of facebook by the Boomer generation shows the additional demand for social networking.

    Yet, the question is what came first. Are our schedules more filled therefore we NEED technology to make our work life more manageable or is our work life more DEMANDING because technology makes it easier to fill our schedules? Will this reliance turn us into the society depicted in Wall-E? Time will certainly tell.

    Until then, my philosophy – Technology, can’t live with it, can’t live without it! Might as well join it!

    • Hi Susan: I vote for the DEMANDING option. We also use an online meetings as well as video conferencing; as I mentioned we are trying to move to an online learning as well. I’m just cognizant of the “overload” this may present and will work to not having that happen. I’m also going to have to make a point to watch Wall-E now.

    • I think it is the demanding because we use technology to fill our schedules. Nice quote.

  • While at U.S. Cellular, we experimented with a site called Yammer, which describes itself “revolutionizing internal corporate communications by bringing together all of a company’s employees inside a private and secure enterprise social network. Although Yammer is as easy to use as consumer products like Facebook or Twitter, it is enterprise-class software built from the ground up to drive business objectives.”

    Essentially, Yammer is a social site designed to allow organizations, teams, and workgroups to bring together their individual members for interaction. We used it mostly as an internal form of communication and created a community for the training organization. What was lacking, in my mind, was a clear purpose to it. Were we to use it for the sharing of articles and other resources related to either the training or wireless industries? Was it away to communicate socially through work? We never really defined it.

    There were efforts to use it as a means of interacting with new hires in retail stores. U.S. Cellular conducts new hire retail training with blended learning, combining synchronous virtual classroom sessions via Webex with offline learning assignments. This allows them to reach learners all across their markets. When I trained my last new hire class in January of this year, we used Yammer to create a group for our class. I would pose a discussion question based on the material covered and read the posts. I would also post links to information about the wireless industry. Other instructors had done this with Yammer and I found great value in it, so I utilized it as well.

    Not long after my class ended, the training organization made a decision to temporarily discontinue Yammer and re-evaluate the strategy of any and all social networking amid concerns of propietary information and the misuse of the site by employees.

    • Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience. Again, it sounds like a strategy issue. Also, the issue of misuse is huge. Perhaps one of the most important tasks for any organization expanding to Web 2.0 is to develop a clear policy statement about appropriate use and behavior. For example, IBM has developed a clear policy on social computing. See IBMs policy statement:

    • Hi Jeff,
      The company where I am employed also uses Yammer. I signed up for the service but I received so much additional unimportant email messages that opted out.

      • Hi Roxanne,
        That was a very annoying feature to me, all the unimportant emails I would get regarding udpates. And, frankly, much of what it was intended for (ongoing communication, sharing of updates and interesting articles) could be carried out via email.

  • It sounds like they need to create a strategy rather than just jumping into the fray! I’d say they need to first think about their goals and objectives and identify the types of social media that might help them achieve those goals.

    • Hi Linda and Kathleen,
      I agreee that it is of upmost important that an organization define goals and objectives. Then explore tools and technology and evalute them based on those defined goals and objectives before adopting. Otherwise the technology and/or tool may not be what is needed. They may waste money and resources adopting tools and technolgoy that are totally not aligned with their strategy. I personally feel that any tool and/or technology should support learning and information exchange.

    • I think it is more strategy than anything. My organization is very old and what the leaders do not understand is the members now are not the members they once had. They are compassioned about the work and they are looking for our organization to be an assistance in their day to day practices not just and Ivy league club.

  • MY organization is a non profit member based organization. They have began to use social networking to evaluate the needs of the member. They also use it to retain and gain membership. One of the problems that have arose for my organization is once the members have been heard the expect action and being only one organization it becomes a challenge to tackle all interest and concerns. When we started using social media you opened the flood gates. Now the organization is trying to rebrand itself to seem that all needs are being taken care of with one large focus using an umbrella to connect the smaller focuses and it is a challenge.

Please post a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s