Employing and Evaluating Your Collaborative Learning Initiative
On September 2, The Human Capital Lab presented the webinar titled “Effectively Implementing and Measuring Collaborative Learning.” During the presentation we explored our experience with a collaborative learning solution and addressed participant questions, but we did not get to all of the interesting points and intriguing questions contributed by the learning leaders in attendance. I’d like to touch on three.
First, there were several questions about determining an organization’s collaborative learning maturity. I’m not familiar with a model that specifically addresses collaborative learning; however, the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) has developed a Knowledge Management Maturity framework. As we discussed during the webinar, collaborative learning and knowledge management are closely related. The Human Capital Lab is a member of APQC and we found their model to be helpful in determining the maturity of our use of social media. The model includes initiating, developing, standardizing, optimizing, and innovating.
The next topic I’d like to cover is ways to support the adoption of a collaborative learning initiative. As I shared, it is often necessary to incentivize use until your system reaches a tipping point. Eventually there will be enough resources and people in the system that you won’t have to push usage – people will pull membership. To get to that point, we used a variety of techniques. Many platforms offer social equity titles, which motivate some users. We offered small prizes and recognition for the best peer-selected contribution. Anecdotal success stories encouraged participation and suggested innovative uses.
During the webinar, some members of the audience were concerned incentives might encourage resource clutter. For example, an award for most contributed material might cause users to dump questionable resources into the system. That was not our experience. We did not allow anonymous posting (which were unable to be rewarded anyway), so participants were publicly responsible for their material. Self-policing is an effective quality control mechanism. Please remember, your organization likely has policy statements about the use of email and the Internet. These same guidelines apply to a web-based, collaborative learning initiative.
Finally, the presentation relied heavily on the idea of correlation. I explained how drilling down to the measureable aspects of a business function and your collaborative learning initiative would allow you to determine if the activities were correlated. This means there is a relationship or connection (positive or negative) between these activities. Positive means they move in the same direction, and negative indicates they are moving in opposite directions. Manually calculating correlation can be complex, fortunately, most desktop productivity software greatly simplifies the process. I encourage you to create two small data sets – they don’t have to be more than 10 items each – and experiment with the correlation (CORREL) function.
With an understanding of your organization’s knowledge sharing maturity, incentives, and measures of effectiveness, I’m confident your collaborative learning initiative will be successful.