#msloc430 Twitter chat 3: Describing the value of digital connections in Enterprise 2.0 and personal learning networks

The third of three scheduled Twitter chats exploring the intersection of Enterprise 2.0 and personal learning networks will focus on how we describe the value of digital, networked connections and sharing – for individuals and for organizations.

The one-hour chat begins Tuesday, April 30 at 9:30 pm ET (8:30 pm CT/6:30 pm PT). Hashtag is #msloc430.

If you know me well, you know I totally understand but also cringe when I hear ROI or brand used in this context. But there certainly is value that we gain by being part of a network of practitioners or learners.

So how do we – as practitioners – describe why it is worth the effort to begin building and maintaining a personal learning network (at the individual level) or providing opportunity to do so (at the organizational level)? Does it matter primarily by who we are trying to describe the value to (e.g., business leaders looking at tech investments vs. individuals who are interested in advancing their own learning)? Or are there some fundamental elements that we can use to describe value in all cases?  In other words, does the value an individual gets (and gives) via a personal learning network also translate to some value within an organization setting that we can effectively describe?

Jane Bozarth wrote a piece last October in Learning Solutions Magazine taking on exactly this question from the perspective of a learning and development practitioner: Nuts and Bolts: Assessing the Value of Online Interactions. In it, she uses a value-creation framework designed by Etienne Wenger, Beverly Traynor and Maarten de Laat. I share the original Wenger/Traynor/de Laat piece as one of the readings in my course because it provides a framework that outlines a narrative, connecting small actions and immediate value to ultimately larger ones. This is one approach to addressing the value-description issue.

Andrew McAfee and others have long described the value as being related to the strength of weak ties. We also know the value of diverse networks in terms of knowledge creation (vs. closed or more homogenous networks).

So does all of this mean we have the proof, but fail in our attempt to describe value effectively? Or are we perhaps just wandering along an innovation adoption cycle?

Post your comments here of you have thoughts or cannot attend the Twitter chat. Summaries to come.

2 thoughts on “#msloc430 Twitter chat 3: Describing the value of digital connections in Enterprise 2.0 and personal learning networks

  1. Jeff, perhaps have students read Bozarth’s article prior to week one of the next 431 class? The article could serve as a pre-emptive resource to mitigate concerns re: e2.0 or PLNs. Also, Bozarth’s does a great job demonstrating the applicability and value of social networks in a user-friendly sense.

    1. Thanks, Jim. I agree. Jane’s piece does bring the Wenger de Laat Traynor piece into a more applied context. (Might be good to read HER piece before reading the original). And by writing that piece, she also gives credibility to the value of PLNs (by being a learning practitioner who actually uses social media tools).

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