So, last month, I was at the eLearning Guild's DevLearn conference in San Jose. Awesome conference. Really. I did a lot of talking during this conference. A lot. Those of you that know me will not be surprised by this but even for me, almost three days of non-stop talking about social media and how it can impact learning is a lot.
One of the cool things that happened when I was doing all this yammering was that it helped me solidify a few things in my head about this very topic. One of these lucid moments came during a talk about how social media can be used to loop in subject-matter experts more easily into the design process or really into whatever stage they're needed in. People had been voicing the same complaints about access to SMEs, about SME's time being booked in other ways, about the bottleneck that these problems represented and then it just hit me...(I say just after reading 1,2,3 and so on)
...we needed to be thinking differently...if we just used social media to build more ways to get to SMEs, then we wouldn't fix what was broken...our ability to access the expertise that we need, when we need it - either in order to answer a question, provide input into a course design or for some other purpose - we didn't need better access to Subject-Matter Experts...we needed access to Subject-Matter Networks. (SMNs)
Geez. This is what we've been talking about from Wikinomics to Small Pieces Loosely Joined...etc....but I am 99.9% confident that I coined the term! I hadn't done that before. Kinda cool. Just kinda popped out. I just googled it and Clarence Fisher had a nice little blog post about it... I actually kinda included it in a blog post I did on another little blog experiment I was trying but was to get some more thoughts down on it...it even made it into the #lrnchat transcript.
So I think though, that one thing that I really like about the term is that it works for me as a way to discuss the value of implementing social media within the enterprise, especially from the learning standpoint. This is what we want isn't it? Networks of experts that can not only give you the answer but do so from multiple perspectives drawing on multiple backgrounds and diverse knowledge sets all at a speed and scale that we've previously been incapable of.
But the term is also a challenge...how do we de-construct our current notions of how expertise is recognized and re-configure it to allow for trust, reputation and authenticity not on an individual level but at a network level? How to construct learning experiences to maximize the existence of SMN's?
So great - a new term - thanks Mark - because if its one thing the learning and training field needed, it was a new term. Yeah, I know but hopefully this one will spur discussion and thought about how we can use social media and social networks to construct a new cognitive infrastructure.