On the 10th December, Training Journal held their Winter Conference on Using Social Media in Learning. It was a great event with lots of varied talks and nowhere was as busy as the twitter backchannel using the #TJ12 hashtag. With @StirTheSource and @Changecontinuum encouraging the flow and maximising the reach of tweets they cooked up so much interaction it was one of the liveliest back channels I've had the pleasure to be involved in.

In her presentation Using Enterprise Social Networks to support Learning & Development, @DrACorbett introduced the three C's - Connect, Contribute and Cultivate.  These three C's were positioned as being essential for L&D to maximise the opportunities that enterprise social networks provide.  Shortly after the presentation a backchannel discussion started on the 3 C's between @Im_Colette, @Changecontinuum @DrACorbett and myself.

I tweeted that curate should also be added to the mix which created the four C's.  Four soon became five and before long we had 10 super c-words that I believe all L&D professionals should be aware of as social tools and networks are evolving working practices and are radically changing approaches to workplace learning.  L&D aren't passengers here we need to be driving this change and making the most of the benefits that networks can provide. All these c-words have particular relevance for me as I can relate to all of them from my work developing the DPG Community, a social network that supports our CIPD and ILM programmes. As a leading CIPD HR and L&D provider the role of the community is hugely important in supporting our learners but also in developing the skills and knowledge associated with all the c-words as I describe in Breaking New Ground.

Here is the final list of c-words and why they are important to you as a Learning Professional:

1) Connect

The role that social technologies can play in connecting everybody within your organisation cannot be underestimated and should be welcomed and encouraged by all L&D professionals. In fact you need to become an expert connector, skilled in connecting others and helping these connections to flourish and blossom.  Connecting people is one of the first steps in creating internal communities and you have an important part to play in developing these communities to support sharing and learning. Connect also extends to your ability to build networks for yourself and network with other professionals using a whole host of social tools.

2) Collaborate

Working together effectively in the 21st century requires new skills and a different mind-set as more work is being done in an open and transparent way. Social media provides more ways to bring teams together to share information and ideas and allows people to complete tasks in real time. Time and location are no longer the barriers they once were and agility and speed are key. You should understand where the power of social can be harnessed and be able to offer guidance and support to your colleagues so they can work together in the most efficient and effective manner and you must do everything in your power to remove silo mentality.

3) Contribute

Your role should not be to magically appear to deliver training and then disappear never to be seen again. In a connected workplace where collaboration and sharing is becoming more visible, social tools allow you to be more visible and ever-present. The ability to share information and resources helping people find the knowledge they seek as quickly as possible are fast becoming essential skills for the modern L&D professional. You need to be contributing and leading by example by role modelling and sharing your own ideas. I love the phrase that Nick Shackleton-Jones uses when he describes L&D as being the honey bees of the organisation.

4) Curate

Whilst there is debate over whether using tools like Scoop it is curation or not does not take away the fact that people need access to quality and relevant information but don't always have the time or the skills to find it quickly.  The skill to find, filter and share high quality and relevant information is made much easier using social media tools and you have a key part to play in either providing this service within your organisation or helping others become more effective themselves at finding and accessing content. @Burrough has shown this can be used very effectively within an organisation.

5) Contextualise

Content is important but context is king. With so much information readily available the ability to bring meaning to ideas, concepts and theories is hugely important. You have always needed to be skilled at telling stories and bringing things to life to help people understand and support the transfer of knowledge but now more than ever do you need to be able to take vast quantities of information and content and translate it in the context of your own organisations or team and individual situations.

6) Cultivate

How does your garden grow? The gardener analogy has long been used to describe your role as a Learning Professional and how you need to create the conditions and environments where the opportunity to learn can prosper. Social media and networks have provided rich and interactive ways for people to learn with a far greater emphasis on informal learning. You must work hard to cultivate these conditions and shift the very culture of learning from PUSH to PULL. This is scary as it's letting go of control and instead creating something that encourages others to participate and become more self-sufficient as learners.

7) Curious 

One of my personal favourites and it's great to see curious as being one of the CIPD HR Profession Map core behaviours. What does being curious mean to you? For me it means experimenting and asking the big 'what if' questions or  'what will happen when' or 'how will this change' and being brave in my decisions to try new things. Viewing failure as an opportunity to learn and continually improving are things that you should be comfortable with and should encourage across your organisation. The HR Profession Map describes curious as being "future-focused, inquisitive and open-minded; seeking out evolving and innovative ways to add value to the organisation". Food for thought...

8) Creative

The classroom should no longer be your focus.  Instead you should be looking to develop your understanding of social tools to provide new and innovative approaches to workplace learning. This may mean letting go and re-inventing your role but this isn't something you should shy away from.  You should embrace and be confident that the learning process can be made more fun and engaging in a whole manner of ways using social tools and technology more creatively. Don't be afraid to look externally for ideas and use your network to bring new ideas in to your organisation and share successes and any lessons learned. Don't worry if people have done these things before it's you that is bringing them in to your organisation and making it happen.

9) Change 

You are an agent of change are you not? Now more than ever do you need to be comfortable in different states of change and be seen as a leader as working practices evolve and L&D departments re-position themselves to add value in new and different ways.  Change isn't only inevitable, it's constant and in a fast paced and connected workplace L&D have a huge part to play in making sense of and influencing change. The biggest change and challenge you need to overcome is forever changing the thinking around learning in your organisations. If you don't do this who will and remember, if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you've always got. Embrace change and be open minded to the possibilities.

10) Catalyst

There are still many organisations and individuals who have not started their journey in using social tools. This is for a combination of reasons as I've written about here but you can be the catalyst to change this and do things differently, introducing the features and benefits and demonstrating the value that networks can add to improve performance. Whilst networks may be seen as a means to improve communication, operational efficiencies and how people work together, the impact on organisational learning is huge. Be that spark, continue to raise awareness of the possibilities and do not be shackled by traditional thinking.

They are all words that will play a greater role in L&D and are becoming an integral part in our language and approaches. The knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to bring them to life should form part of our DNA as learning professionals and social media and social tools have a big part in play in the future of our profession.

So what do you think, is the c-word the most important word in L&D?

Are there any other c-words you would add to the mix as essential words for L&D?

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