Perry Timms writes on social HR and asks the questions we should all we asking about the workplace. He has over 20 years experience in business change including project management, organisational development, talent strategy and L&D. He is well-known on the blogger and event circuit and is regularly asked to chair conferences, roundtables and webinars, both in the UK and around Europe. Perry is a CIPD adviser on social media and engagement.

I don’t know HOW many posts I’ve seen extolling the virtues of social media and learning. I often talk that one up myself. I call it a “curriculum of chaos”. It’s learning without water-wings/floatation devices and it’s got no start, middle or end.

It’s often where I advise people to start on social media – use it for learning. It’s a consumption channel (to start with) and as Harold Jarche rightly points out to us, it’s a Personal Learning (Knowledge) Network.

I’ve seen great things posted in timelines so today, as I draft this, the Oracle VP of HR is calling out to HR to up its game on multiple generations and attitudes in the workplace and the value of data in the HR game. I see a post on our boosted IQ meaning a more moral society. I read about an unconference on why organisations haven’t shifted to a more progressive model of operating and I see someone musing in preparing our students to be the digital leaders of tomorrow.

ALL have some value to me and all totally random. Curriculum of chaos. As thought leader Don Tapscott says “I don’t find the news, it finds me.” So it is with learning. If we play it right, it finds us.

I don’t think it’s ever been so abundant. I also don’t ever think it’s been as energising either. And that’s my main point here.

Yes – there’s a lot of it.  Yes – you will miss some of it.  Yes – you may not find what you’re looking for in random posts. Yet think about this with pre-social technologies.

Googling, before that Business Balls(!), before that books, courses, chats with people, mentors – all valid learning methods and some of them pretty energising.

Yet social media gets me sometimes jumping out of my chair or nodding on the train as a fabulous piece of insight is either blogged or referenced in a post. Amazing. And it’s that energy that I don’t think can be replicated by any other form of learning I experience so frequently. Yes, if you go to a fabulous conference some of the speakers will get you pumped up. A great coaching session might have you punching the air.

Energy in learning is probably an underestimated ally in making the process of learning work; finding great content and insight, that this new information sticks and becomes wisdom and is applied into new found skills.

Energy-zapping learning scenarios do no-one any good. Overly long courses. Boring presentations at conferences. Naff e-learning. A dull as heck mentoring chat. Repetitive books.

But scanning a social media feed; jumping off on the links; bookmarking the content; screen-grabbing the model; jotting stuff into Evernote; popping a link onto StumbleUpon; scanning your Flipboard mag; popping onto Reddit; picking up a thread up from Feedly.

Don’t know these terms or apps? Well then get in the game and try some out. You don’t need them all. Just try out one or two.

BUT social media has SO MUCH to offer as a learning channel. Beyond the content. The connections; the things you can create, the aspects you want to search and research. 

I don’t even use the big G now to search: I jump onto my Twitter stream or onto Google+ and see what people are talking about, not what Adwords thinks I should know.

So it IS time to rewire your learning. Not just for the sake of being on trend or moving to 100% digital. It’s about making the most of the abundance and absolutely feeling the energy that comes from learning the social way.

Social learning guru Aristotle put it best when he said “the energy of the mind is the essence of life.”

Be social, go learn, create energy.

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