Editor's Insights: Leveraging New Learning Networks for Organizational Success

In this edition of Editor's Insights, HRIQ is joined again by Professor Eric Y.H. Tsui, Researcher and Practitioner in Knowledge Management, and Vice President at Hong Kong Knowledge Management Society.

According to Tsui's research, the learning paradigm has shifted, and the way that organizational learning takes place is changing drastically.

This interview will discuss the changing face of organizational learning and new tools available to facilitate innovation in your company.

Alexandra Guadagno: What are the opportunities brought about by the cloud vs. the web?

Professor Tsui: Some of the benefits are less upfront cost, pay per usage model, cheap (and almost free) perpetual storage, opportunity to collect and data mine a large repository of data, instant scalability adding to the dynamic capabilities of an organization, guaranteed service levels and availability, and the ability to reach out to tens of millions of people.

Can you explain briefly how the "Learning Paradigm' has shifted, and to what do you attribute this evolution?

Due to the onset of knowledge-based economy, work becomes more unstructured, unpredictable, requires workers to collaborate with others, and users need to have good analytical and cognitive skills to solve problems and make decisions. Knowledge workers need to engage in short learning, practice and reflection cycles. This leads to more user-centric learning.

How can both employee and employer leverage success through Personal Learning Environments & Networks?

Corporate continues to provide formal training, but also allows and provide an environment for social and personal learning. Knowledge workers can erect their own PLE&N and interface or co-exist with the corporate LMS. Relevant knowledge can be fused between the two systems. This environment needs to be ubiquitous, pervasive, moderated by experts, and adaptive.

What are the tools available that are behind the PLE&N?

For the PolyU PLE&N, I use Google Contact books, GReader and Google Buzz. Together they deliver an environment functioning like a semi-automatic bulletin board, with subject matter experts acting to safeguard the quality of information coming into the PLE&N

How does this network enhance peer-to-peer or instructor-to-learner collaboration?

For me, when piloting the PLE&N in an academic environment, I include students, teachers, graduates and respected industry professionals into the PLE&N, Never before in classroom teaching we can accommodate these 4 categories of people in one subject. Students love to learn from graduates and practitioners about how best to position their learning to embark on a career in a particular domain.

How has this model been resonating with students and practitioners thus far?

We've received very good feedback from more than 100 students so far. Sixty percent want the same environment to be trialed in other subjects; two-thirds of students admitted that they have learned more than what the subject syllabus has specified; and 95 percent of students remain in the PLE&N even after a semester is over.

What are some other potential usages of PLE&N in the corporate world?

There are many. E.g., marketing and product development departments can configure a PLE&N to tap into industry news and consumer preferences. IT departments can use the PLE&N to keep a watching brief on prevailing technologies and stimulate discussions with staff and clientele for potential projects. Training and HR departments can set up PLE&N and link together internal and external subject matter experts to provide lifelong learning for staff.

How does a company facilitate integration between its LMS & a PLE&N?

This is a BIG question. For starters, adopt open standards; develop APIs to interface with Web 2.0 tools; adopt cloud computing for ubiquitous access and scalability; stimulate a paradigmatic change in learning culture… from instructor lead to peer-to-peer co-learning in an online environment.

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