HP Adopts Social Learning—E-Learning Is a Thing of the Past

E-learning was very popular in the 90s, says River Software’s Randy Emelo. However, in the 21st century, the focus has shifted to bite-sized chunks of learning, the shorter the better—something we call micro-learning. Tearing information apart, then talking about what you are doing—that’s social learning.

Emelo and HP’s Becky Simeon, PhD, offered their experiences and tips at the HR Tech Conference, held recently in Las Vegas. Emelo is president of mentoring and collaboration software company River; Simeon is director, HP Global Performance Management.

Synchronous and Asynchronous

Traditional training required everyone to take training at the same time in the same place, says Emelo. Then, they still did it at the same time, but not necessarily in the same place. But now it’s more asynchronous—it’s in the moment, sharing and supporting as problems emerge.

Don’t try to get to social learning by slapping a social component onto existing training, Emelo says. You have to start with social.

Systematized and Personalized

Traditional training had tiered “swim lanes,” and “career ladders.” Today, it’s more like a climbing wall—employees take individual paths, but reach the same place, says Emelo.

The paths may include lateral moves or even a step back, adds Simeon. This is the lattice approach. It doesn’t dictate paths, but you may indicate to employees paths that have been successful for others in the past.

Content and Context

You want the content of the training to fit the context of the job, says Simeon. HR had formal performance processes at midyear and year-end, but where was the training?

Consumer and Producer

Employees aren’t just consumers of learning—they need to produce as well, Simeon says. The culture is that you have a social responsibility to develop the people around you.

HP uses the River tool to help them develop communities of practice. For example, Simeon says, we have a community of Excel experts. The people are not instructional designers.

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Next-Generation Learning Technology

HP’s approach has six elements, Simeon says:

  • Peer learning
  • Communities of interest
  • Coaching
  • Modern mentoring
  • Performance support
  • Courses (MOOCs, e-learning, etc.)

To succeed with next-generation learning, Simeon says, there’s a threefold requirement:

1) A single interface …

2) That actively recommends and connects the right people, content, and courses, at the right time …

3) Through the lens of your organizational competencies.

She offers the graphic below to illustrate:

You gather a lot of intelligence, Simeon says, and then allow people to create two-way connections. HP has found that their people are five times more likely to ask for help rather than seek formal training.

Performance Management and Career Development

Simeon uses the graphic below to help employees understand how performance management and career development work together. The system features year-round feedback that focuses on clarity and connection. The River tool is the backbone, she says.

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A 5-Year Journey

Moving to social learning is a process, says Emelo. You can’t just buy software and dump it into the culture; that won’t work. At HP, it was a 5-year journey, Simeon says, and this is what happened:

  1. HP already had a rich, longstanding culture of mentoring.
  2. The River tool was introduced in one unit by a visionary leader in finance who knew mentoring well.
  3. The positive results started getting noticed, and the demand increased in other units. There was also positive feedback from surveys—the voice of the workforce.
  4. HP implemented a global, corporate mentoring program and the River tool.
  5. Social learning at a strategic level was embedded in the HP culture and business.

The River Platform

River is the backbone of the mentoring @hp platform. The program is hosted by River. The tool “empowers individuals to assemble a network of collaborators so they can learn critical competencies quickly and efficiently. This, in turn, spreads expertise and innovation quickly across the organization and brings new perspective and creative ideas to employee career development and drives business results.”

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