It’s fascinating to watch technical innovations grow in use from early adopters to the point where they “tip” into mass acceptance (apologies to Malcolm Gladwell).  This is certainly the case for Web 2.0 applications.  Seemingly overnight, web based social media and collaborative tools are everywhere.  (It hasn’t really happened overnight of course. for example has been with us since 1995.  Also, proprietary collaboration tools like Lotus Notes and others have allowed users to post, comment and share documents and ideas, albeit within an organization’s firewall)

The new web 2.0 applications have provided a powerful vehicle for our most human of needs–to communicate, share and socialize with our peers.  Blogs, wikis, photo sharing, and communities of all types allow you to post, comment, share, and categorize (tag) content in ways that the broadcast era of the web (Web1.0) simply couldn’t do. The simple act of participating in web 2.0 communities results in learning, but more on that later.

The phenomenon has been primarily in the public/consumer space
But the phenomenon has mostly been in the public and consumer sphere so far.  The wild success of MySpace and Facebook social networking, Twitter, various blogging platforms, YouTube, Wikipedia and others, have driven the juggernaut.  The web 2.0 movement has been has been grassroots and democratic, not characteristics you would typically attribute to corporate North America.   But business is coming around.  The benefits of capturing and sharing knowledge and interacting with colleagues across geographies are especially appealing for knowledge based companies.  And generation Y employees are entering organizations with different expectations for communication.

Enterprise 2.0
As web 2.0 technology makes it’s way inside organizations, businesses software and services (SaaS) are emerging that better meet the unique needs of organizations (Enterprise 2.0) than public software platforms. The adoption rate has been slower and some attempts to use public applications like Facebook have met with limited success.

Traditional Learning management systems are adding social networking and community features to their offerings (see SabaSocial for example) but I think the real success of web 2.0 platforms in organizations will be software that has more cross enterprise application for community development and knowledge creation. I’m thinking of tools like these and others as they develop.

Igloo (corporate social networking)
Mzinga (social HR, marketing and support)
Tomoye (communities of practice)
ZOHO (collaborative productivity tools)
37signals (collaborative productivity tools)

Learning and Performance 2.0
For learning and performance professionals the web 2.0 phenomenon is causing a shift in thinking and new opportunities to support learning and performance-one that is less focused on designing formal learning programs (although web 2.0 can help there too) and more on designing learning and work environments that enable knowledge creation, sharing and transfer.  As is always the case when new technologies emerge we get a little too excited about the technology rather than how it will help us learn and perform.

My next few posts will be on how we can use web 2.0 technologies to support learning, performance and knowledge generation in organizational contexts rather than the public context from which it emerged.  First, how learning can be supported with web 2.0 tools and second how web 2.0 can be used to truly blur the lines between learning and working by building the tools into workflow.

Web 2.0 jing and yang

Any tool that based on human social interaction will bring with it all the positve and negative attributes we bring to our face to face lives.  Here are two videos on Social Networking. The first is from CommonCraft, who have done a slew of simple stylized videos on Web 2.0 topics (there are many more at their website.)

This second video is both a send up of the Common Craft video style and a tongue-in-cheek view of the darker side of social networking. The language may offend some but I hope not too many. Anyone who has spent some time in a web 2.0 community will recognize the scenario 🙂


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This blog contains perspectives on the issues that matter most in workplace learning and performance improvement.  It’s written by Tom Gram.

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Recent Posts

The Learning Design Sprint
August 16, 2018
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Practice and the Development of Expertise (Part 2)
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