Social Learning examples in the Workplace (2011)

Here are a number of examples of how people and organisations are using social media for social learning – both INTERNALLY and EXTERNALLY – in order to improve job, team and business performance and productivity. These examples are listed in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first.

  • The lessons of Virgin Media’s flexible working initiative, 13 February 2012
    “We couldn’t just deliver a simple technical training course and people would naturally adopt the technology all at the same rate. We had to create a unique and individual set of adoption processes that included everything from one-to-one training to self-help with videos through how-to communities. One of the big successes during the pilot, which I was hoping for but surprised me nonetheless, was the amount of people who started to self-help and help others.”
  • The Client knows best, CLO Magazine, 26 May 2011
    “Increasingly, IBM is leveraging social learning to meet this first element of learning strategy. Rather than develop centrally related content, experts throughout the company find, build, publish, share and comment on assets to enhance skills development and productivity. IBM has created tools such as online learning communities and socially generated tags on key knowledge assets to make relevant knowledge more searchable. It also has reduced search time and costs, accelerated onboarding and, recognizing that more than 40 percent of its workforce is global, enabled delivery of job-relevant information to networked mobile devices.”
  • BC government turns static intranet into community, 13 August 2010“The intranet was rebuilt from top to bottom within 50 days with only three developers who were learning the open-source platform Drupal as they as went along.  They went from a site built on an platform to a new one on Drupal, adding functionality that enabled employees to rate and comment on all site content.  The new organization-wide wiki platform, Wikilumbia, had more than 80 entries in the first month, while throughout the site 190 commentators left multiple opinions. Although the site traffic of 2,000 employees logged on at any given time didn’t change, the level of participation doubled. Moreover, the quality of useful feedback improved after the site did away with anonymous posts last year.The success of a social intranet ultimately has less to do with technology than with planning, governing and managing change. Walsh had these lessons to share.
    • Ditch perfectionism
    • Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
    • Trust your team
    • Not your government’s voice”
  • TELUS – Embraces social learning; streamlines formalise learning, 12 May 2010“TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications company, spent considerable resources on third-party learning for its 35,000 team members. The company shifted its investment and adopted Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to serve as the focal point of a new information and social learning initiative. TELUS, which worked with partner imason, will use the system to support learning through a formal, informal, and social content paradigm, including networking, blogs, wikis, videos, communities, and collaboration sites to foster knowledge sharing among team members. Team members will be able to learn more quickly because knowledge will be readily available from experts within the company, as opposed to solely through scheduled classes. The company also expects to see increased team member engagement, better sharing of institutional knowledge, and 20 percent savings on learning costs in 2010 alone.
  • How IBM uses social media to spur employee innovationJanuary 2010
  • Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at Vistaprint
  • Implementing enterprise 2.0 at Oce (CloudAvenue, May 2010)
  • Northrop Grumman’s Onboarding success story
  • Lockheed Martin’s implementation of a social networking platform
    13 June 20008
  • Virtual communities at Caterpillar foster knowledge sharing, June 2004
  • US Healthcare company
    This was submitted to me by an L&D professional in this company.“Business/learning problem:The business problem is and has been a decrease in financing use by our clients for products and services and a need for innovative solutions. In a current credit crunch potential customers are reluctant to finance even their needs. Working in isolation, nationwide staff struggled to develop sincere, credible, and innovative approaches in the presentation of financing to a credit-hesitant public.Specific tools used:The company uses SharePoint. I promoted an initiative to use the Wiki feature to engage in collaborative solution generation. I created a hypothetical client and grouped office staff (4-6) in different locations to engage the fictitious client in a fictitious conversation. Authentic client related materials are presented in the environment for the staff to peruse. SME’s would assist me in writing conversational dialog in the voice of the client. Office staff were to collaborate in the Wiki and generate a series of responses and come to consensus. These conversations would extend over a period of 2-3 weeks so as to not leave a significant footprint on production and to allow for review/reflection and agreement by the staff participants. The outcome is the creation of scripting examples to help new hires and veterans alike gain new approaches to aligning financial products to clients needs and wants.How are tools being used/ interim success? Tool use was small in select group of offices. The Wiki itself was mastered quickly. Dialog and agreement will need continual encouragement. Although the footprint is small, the offices tend to be extremely busy and therefore meeting desired completion times is difficult.”
  • Enterprise 2.0 at Booz Allen
    1. Business drivers and components, Bill Ives, fast forward, 8 December 2009
      “Booz Allen developed and implemented Hello, a suite of web-based enterprise tools designed to strengthen collaboration, connectivity, and communication across geographical and cultural barriers. It was created from vision to launch in under 6 months leveraging a blend of Open Source, COTS, and custom-developed products”
    2. Change management efforts and results, Bill Ives, fast forward, 11 December 2009
    3. Operational impact, Bill Ives, fast forward, 15 December 2009
    4. Financial impact, Bill Ives, fast forward, 18 December 2009
    5. Lessons learned, Bill Ives, fast forward, 22 December 2009
    6. Plans for enhancements, Bill Ives, fast forward, 4 January 2010
  • How Connectbeam saved $50,000 for a company

    “This company saved $50,000 because of its Connectbeam implementation. Here’s a bulleted summary of the story:

    • An employee created a wiki page explaining how to get a discount on software
    • Wiki page was shared on Connectbeam
    • Employees in other departments Googled the name of the software app
    • The wiki page was returned alongside the Google search results
    • Other employees clicked on the link to the wiki page, learning how to get the discount
    • Result = $50,000 savings to the company”

    How Connectbeam saved $50,000 for a company, Connectbeam blog, 24 November 2008

  • NASASphere
    “Applying a social networking approach to enabling collaboration amongst the NASA knowledge workforce and thus across centers, is one way to meet NASA’s need to share and preserve information in support of the Vision for Space Exploration. NASA has been and continues to be tremendously successful at meeting its mission goals. However, new ideas and new solutions are becoming increasingly more difficult to generate at an individual level and the requirements for input from a community of people found across NASA centers to solve problems is growing. …  An enterprise-class online social network, when implemented in the NASA environment, would allow NASA knowledge workers to exchange, capture, and create a collective intelligence for NASA that is reusable agency-wide by all knowledge workers. By providing an online social network to its knowledge workers, NASA can open up information bottlenecks and speed up the time it takes to get information to the right people to make informed decisions.”Findings from the NASASphere Pilot, SocialCast, August 2009
  • Other examples of companies using YammerTwitter-esque service helps businesses foster collaboration across the nation — even around the globe”Clamor about Yammer: In-house micro-blog can unite far-flung staffers, Lindsey Miller,, May 2009
  • Oce“The low barrier to entry helped expand the number of users. The intuitive and attractive interface also helped. Samuel said that there were only about 15 to 20 people using Twitter in the company when he introduced Yammer. Now there are over 250 Yammer users. This usage has also increased the number of Twitter users. Some people had been reluctant to use Twitter because of its public nature. After they saw the value from Yammer, they extended their micro-messaging to the Web with Twitter. Yammer gave them a secure and walled place to first try micro-messaging and see its value. Samuel said he has seen the same migration with blogging, as people have started a blog inside Océ and then added an external facing one.”.Implementing enterprise micro-messaging at Oce, Bill Ives, the app gap, 12 August 2009Implementing Enterprise microblogging with Yammer, 11 November 2008
  • Nationwide Insurance“An internal micro-blogging tool fashioned much like Twitter, Yammer is accessible only by your staff.  Employees at Nationwide Insurance find it so useful that 7,000 of its 36,000 employees have jumped on it in the last year without prompting from internal communicators.How? The director of social media at Nationwide, Shawn Morton, tried Yammer and initially thought it wouldn’t be useful because it was too similar to Twitter and Facebook. Then, several senior leaders, including the president and chief technology officer tried it, which set off a chain reaction within the company. “We went quickly from a dozen users to thousands of users over the course of the next few months,” Morton says. “It’s growing all by word of mouth.”At Nationwide, Yammer links rank-and-file with the C-suite,, 23 November 2009
  • QualcommHow Qualcomm is using Yammer to help employees connect across divisions and geographic regionsA case study of micro-blogging for learning at Qualcomm – presentation slides from DevLearn
  • BUPA Social Bookmarking
    “BUPA have been trialling the Cogenz social bookmarking software for 6 months with 50 users from Head Office, to create a shared library of information resources and harness the collective intelligence of the workforce.”BUPA Social Bookmarking, SocialText website
  • Agilent Technologies“As early as two years ago, the global measurement solution provider introduced Wiki as a collaborative learning software to its workforce across the world. Its intention? Enhance group learning within its corporate environment. …Christopher Goh, Agilent’s director of global learning and leadership development, believes leveraging on such social networks allows his company to “facilitate collaborative learning and knowledge sharing” amongst its employees, especially the younger generation. “This medium augurs well with Gen Y learners who are tech-savvy and used to collaborating with each other in a networked environment.Wiki is used as a support group learning platform in one of Agilent’s core leadership programmes after participants completed the initial traditional classroom training. A Wiki site would be set up to allow participants work in teams to resolve their common leadership challenges, which had been discussed in the classroom. According to Goh, the participants will then work together over the web for 10 weeks after the training.The Corporate Classroom, Marketing, 1 October 2009
  • SFR

    “French mobile phone company SFR implemented ActiveNetworker from Jobpartners to support its new social network. My SFR comprises a company blog, a central space for discussion, and the ability to build profiles that allow employees to share information on career progress, learning and development and aspirations. They can also join groups of interest … ActiveNetworker has been well received and SFR is averaging 80,000 visits per week from the 10,000 employees that are using it.

    Social networking: E-learning on the social, Sue Weekes, Personnel Today, 18 November 2009

  • Pearson People Development

    “Problem:Pearson’s learning strategy of face-to-face training for its global company of over 35,000 needed to change due to restrictions on travel on and after September 11, 2001

    Solution: Implemented an online, virtual meeting environment to increase telecourse interactivity. Began a virtual book club utilizing collaborative software for brainstorming and decision making

    Results: A shift from face-to-face culture to a virtual business culture. The role of Pearson People Development changed to being a learning enabler. Substantial cost savings from reduced face-to-face meeting time. Increased employee engagement because of the benefits of the new virtual processes, such as reduced stress and time”

    PearsonPeopleDevelopment Case Study (PDF), Corporate University Exchange, November 2009

  • Sun Learning eXchange

    “When the company’s sales division reduced training hours and budget, Sun Learning Services (SLS) needed to get strategic. Observing Web 2.0 popularity, increased peer-to-peer information sharing among employees and sales team demand for “just-in-time” learning in the field, Sun brought social media into the workplace. Leveraging open source technology and Sun’s innovation culture, Sun Learning Services created Sun Learning eXchange, a YouTubelike collaborative multimedia portal on which employees can post, view, rate, tag, share or download content to computers or wireless iPod devices.”

    “Sun Learning eXchange Empowers Learners to Meet Their Own Critical Learning Needs” PDF, David Mallon, Bersin & Associates, March 2009 (No longer available)

  • BT Dare to Share“It does not replace the company’s existing learning programs so much as augment them with informal learning opportunities and with social collaborative opportunities.

    From a technology platform perspective, the approach is equivalent to an enterprise wide YouTube system with a strong social dimension. Dare2Share leverages Microsoft Sharepoint to enable employees to create, find and view learning segments (podcasts, documents and links), and also discuss and debate the content being created. Perhaps more important than the platform, however, is the attitude and learning culture that this approach creates across the organization. The free-form environment encourages people to experiment, innovate, collaborate, communicate and share their experiences and knowledge in engaging ways. This knowledge sharing has a positive impact on how other employees serve customers, find information or solve problems.”

    The Business Case for Social Learning, Accenture, Point of View, April 2009