How to take your learning network to the next level

learning network

During Learning at Work Week 2018, Saffronites were thinking about what this year’s theme, ‘Networked for Learning’, meant to us all, both as individuals and at a company-wide level. We put together our thoughts, ideas and inspiration around how to build a learning network.

We believe that when we have the right resources, culture and capability to cater for all our individual moments of learning need. We’re truly networked for learning. But, there are ways to expand and optimise that learning network. Here’s a quick round up from our Networked for Learning video series.

Master your network

We’re all at the centre of our own learning network and, in a way, we’re all curators of our own learning content. To become ‘pro curators’, we need to master our own network by using the resources available to us. It pays to appreciate that the majority of our learning doesn’t take place in formal learning sessions, with much more occurring on the job.

We need to keep an open mind about the ways that we learn. That means the technology we use, the formal and informal learning we complete, the people we connect with and the support we give to others and receive in return.

Learning is a process that never ends, and we all have preferred learning media. Whether it’s books, school, college, teachers, friends, social media, YouTube, blogs – your learning network, and the way you interact with it, is unique to you.

However, there are some common shared values that our team have identified. These recurring motifs and behavioural characteristics are displayed by people who are truly networked for learning:

  • Being open and willing to share what they know with others
  • Networking with people from a variety of different backgrounds and industries
  • Learning from people with different strengths and perspectivesand being ready to recognise their own
  • Sharing inspiration with, and taking inspiration from, other people inside and outside of work
  • Developing their skills by maintaining communications with colleagues and experts around the world

Embrace digital transformation

At Saffron, we know that ‘Networked for Learning’ is much more than just a community of practice. It’s about thinking about how technology can be an enabler to take that community to the next level. The internet, the largest learning network of them all, links everything together, giving us the opportunity to explore and collaborate digitally. We’re no longer limited to face-to-face (or face-to-book) learning.

Lots of us at Saffron take a digital approach in our own learning endeavours. That doesn’t just mean accessing information available online, but also sharing ideas, asking questions and finding answers. The integration of learning into our everyday workflow through tools like point-of-need assistants, mobile learning and chatbots means that we can learn as we work. Information is just that much more accessible where and when you need it.

There’s a whole range of internal and external sources we rely on to deepen our industry knowledge and develop our skillset. Our teams seek answers to their queries by browsing the web, using YouTube explainers, referring to our company Wiki and social LMS and more.

Saffron’s designers, for example, like to use livestreams to give them the opportunity to see the workflows of designers all over the world. And if they have a question? It’s a cinch to contact the designer in question and get their input. This kind of networked learning means that they can come up with new ideas and keep on top of their UX game through global collaboration.

In a similar vein, many of our team love using social media to keep up with trends and reach out to a wider community of professionals. Twitter hashtags group together ideas and have made it easy for us to find out other people’s views. LinkedIn helps us keep in contact with industry professionals and share insights and internally.

Mind the gap!

Digital technology is revelatory from a learning perspective, but that doesn’t mean we can just forget the value of our real-life learning network. It’s evident that we’re living in a tech-obsessed culture, so it’s important to think about how we can bridge the gap between the digital and the human.

With all this digital communication around us, we need a space where people can be social and collaborate, where we can share with others in a human way. Enhanced by technology – yes. Veiled behind technology – no. There’s a stark difference.

We all know how important it is to have a support network in our personal lives. Our working lives are no different. We need to feel supported by our colleagues and free to ask for help or start a conversation. Most of us are turning to our digital worlds to do this, and that’s great, but it’s important to also have a group of people, real human people, you regularly sit down to discuss ideas with.

Businesses can enable this support network by creating a culture of open discussion and collaboration in the workplace. This will in turn enhance learning experiences, performance and productivity.

But face-to-face interaction is not just important for our learning network, it’s important for our wellbeing and to make sure we have plenty of opportunities to hear other people’s points of view. That’s the value of industry events and co-work sessions. It’s not just about big-name seminars, but also workshops, quick meetings, and yes, the post-show pub meet-up.

So, what’s next?

To really be networked for learning, we need to share ideas, thoughts and viewpoints across our teams through a variety of mediums. We need to combine the digital and the human so that ideas and examples shared digitally can quickly become talking, and learning, points. It’s important that conversation can happen naturally – a digital-only approach to networked learning isn’t enough. In short, digital transformation is exciting, but don’t forget the human element of our learning networks.

So, watch some more videos, share this blog, write a comment and start building your own network for learning today! Share your thoughts and ideas below, we’d love to hear from you. What does ‘Networked for Learning’ mean to you?

About the author

Aisling Murphy - Instructional designer
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