Engaging the social learner

Twitter chat – Held on 9 February 2016 17.30pm [GMT]  

Chat collaboration:  #aapchat and @nicolastrong 


Working with Andy Swann and Adelaida Manolescu from the great new enterprise called All About People that seeks to create amazing environments that “bring together the right people in the right places doing the right things” … at the right time.

Here is an introduction to our Twitter chat, Engaging the Social Learner with a link to the Storify summary.

As keen content developers and tech enabled organisations seek to understand the secret world of the unmotivated employee, the word “engagement” buzzes around like an annoying fly. A survey by Gallup last month announced that a consistent 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged by their job. Ouch.

Standing, now, with my fly swat of reflection, I wonder what we really mean by the word “engagement”… in the context of the social learner. In this case, I see a social learner is defined as someone who is using the broad range of web-based learning tools or artificially intelligent autonomous systems to learn something new.

Is learning engagement:

  • Counting clicks through theory
  • Tracking eye movement across a bite-size of learning
  • Testing a learner’s capacity to remember another methodology
  • Diverting the focus from the employee to measure performance by asking the end-user/customer to rate their level of satisfaction of the product or service?

At the Learning Technologies 2016 (LT16) this week, I decided to talk to as many people as I could and asked them the question:

what does your product or service really do to engage a learner? 


Jane Hart in her presentation on how to use Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) for social learning talks about creating an opportunity for collaboration “encouraging interactions, conversations, sharing and discussions to support and improve performance on the job.” Jane offered 10 ways you can use ESNs to increase engagement and she has kindly posted a summary of her slides on SlideShare:

Moving on to the next stand, I got talking to members of the Implementation Team at Fuse Universal. They explained one measure of engagement success they found helpful was to monitor the ease of access to the learning content by looking at the number of “views”. This was in addition to the standard requirements that the context is relevant, bitesized and supported by “community managers”. An interesting question emerged that I used as my first of four questions in my Twitter Chat #aapchat @nicolastrong.

Question 1. Are our social learners actually learning on-line?

At the next stand, Atticmedia, who are specialists in digital learning, they highlighted their successful live, i-Pad led, technology designed for the employees on the shop floor at Marks & Spencer. The Atticmedia Design Teams had drawn on their long history in education and animation to develop a sense of serious play in their learning tools. The M&S Way: delivering learning on the shop floor project placed the learning tools right into the hands of the employee as they were managing live issues and, quoting the Atticmedia website, to re-ignite the staff’s ‘passion for fashion’ .


Question 2. What is the most valuable measure of successful employee engagement in the workplace?

I was particularly interested to see a presentation by Rory Lawson (Account Director at City & Guilds Kineo) and Iain Trundle (Group head of learning channels, Barclays) on their award-winning global Barclays Colleague Curriculum launched last year. Some of the unenviable challenges included creating 170 programmes accessible to 135,000 employees in over 45 countries, across multiple devices (some in very remote locations), embedding Barclays’ values and behaviour. Not only that, this process had to maintain the highest and most secure standards. The final product achieved an impressive take-up in the first two days. A more detailed analysis can be found in the Human Resource Management International Digest.  The photo below show some of the highlights set out by Iain Trundle in his presentation.


Then, I decided to check out the Italdata/Sharper Analytics Stand. Italdata were talking about using data analytics to feedback and motivate the learner. Their demo took me through the first two modules KONSocial and KONit but the most interesting part for me was the third module, KONview. This module creates sets of visual analytics using machine learning to provide live feedback on learning progress, community engagement and learning community champions. The photo below shows the individual, illustrated with a blue dot, leading a learning community forum discussion.


Question 3. Does giving live feedback on a learner’s impact on a learning discussion increase engagement and learning?

The Team on the Skill Pill Stand talked about agency and the inclusion of the employee in designing their learning. They argued that engagement increased when the learning content was co-created. They had some wonderful examples – check out the website.


Question 4. Who should take responsibility for learning to improve the employees’ job performance, the organisation or the learner?

If you would like to see the results of the Twitter chat here is the link to the Storify version:



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