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Social Learning Systems

A social learning system is any group of
people who learn together. It could be a family, a group of people on a
subway train that gets trapped in an underground tunnel, a class
cohort, or a work team. These groups have 4 dynamics that I think are
pretty cool:

1. Peer-to-peer learning is just as important as teacher-to-student
learning. So, there needs to be plenty of opportunity for people to
talk amongst each other, in addition to learning from experts.

2. People participate in learning with their whole being. And we draw
on every part of our life experience, not just those confined to our
acknowledged area of expertise, our degrees, or our positions. This
means that holistic learning beats out any one mode (lecture, reading,
discussion, video, etc).

3. In any given group, everyone owns a piece of the puzzle. No one owns
the whole thing. In other words, everyone in the group has a valid
perspective and value to contribute.

4. Passionate participation is always voluntary. You can’t make people
want to give. But, you can nurture it. And if you can pull it off, you
can see stellar improvement in group performance.

Next time you are helping a group with its charge, give some
consideration to these dynamics. They can make the difference between
high performance and, well, no performance!

(This information is drawn from the work of �tienne Wenger. He has
researched and written about Communities of Practice for over 20 years.
I have used his work extensively during manysuccessful large-scale
change initiatives – for more see http://wenger-trayner.com)

Love is the force
that ignites the spirit and binds teams together.

– Phil Jackson