Social Learning ROI: Asking the Right Questions

This week I’m co-presenting a webinar with Sean Stowers and Rupalli Thacker on Social Learning.  As I approached the topic of Social Learning ROI, I realized it’s all about asking the right questions.  You should determine how to measure success by imagining what success will look like.

Because the technology supporting Learning 2.0 initiatives often has dozens of statistics available for analysis, it’s easy to be distracted by artificial indicators of success.

Let’s use my activity at the gym as an analogy.  If you wanted to determine whether or not my exercise regimen was successful, what would you measure?  Would you measure in pounds, inches, energy level, strength, stamina, flexibility, coordination, or some other quantifiable method?  If you said you would measure in pounds, then you might assume my goal was to lose weight.  If, however, I’m trying to become a body builder, then that would not be the best measure of success.  If you measured my strength, but my goal was to gain flexibility, then you’re looking for results in the wrong area.

One of the first things most employers look to for gauging success of a social learning/eLearning platform is to analyze how often employees are accessing the site.  That would be like measuring my exercise regimen by looking at how often my key card is scanned at the gym.  I may go to the gym every day for 2 hours, but if I’m just chatting with friends while bouncing on a yoga ball, then the statistics will not correlate.

So much of critical thinking is about asking the right questions.  So, before you decide how to measure your social learning program’s ROI, ask yourself what you want to gain from adopting a social learning strategy.  Depending on the content, structure, and capability of the platform, you might expect improved creativity, faster problem solving, enhanced knowledge transfer, better communication, a more positive company culture, greater job satisfaction, improved collaboration, etc.

Put simply, measure results instead of just analyzing the statistics that are easiest to find.

To hear more about my thoughts on Social Learning ROI and other related topics, join the webinar on March 30th at 1pm ET.

How do you measure the success of your social learning program?

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Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.


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