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A Speedbump for Social Learning May 24, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Whether you call it Learning 2.0, eLearning 2.0, or Social Learning, there’s a relatively new wave of tools and technologies that allow people to communicate and collaborate in a surprisingly easy and effective way. Some of these tools and technologies include wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and social networking. Well…I’ve run into a situation recently that I believe will be encountered more and more by people who try to implement social learning at their organization: I’ve realized that you need to be very careful of how and where your organization’s information is stored. If you’re not careful, you may end up accidentally leaking confidential and/or proprietary information out to the public.

Most social learning tools are web-based, and the social (or sharing) aspect generally means that the information you submit is likely to be available to other users that may or may not be affiliated with your organization. So if you’re using these tools to store or communicate sensitive information, you may be in for a big (bad) surprise. Make sure you clearly understand all aspects of the tool before using it at your organization. I know, this seems like common sense for many people, but I think it’s important enough to bring it to light. People that aren’t technically-savvy may not think in these terms, and this is an area where one small mistake could lead to a large problem.

In terms of being ready for business use, blogs and wikis appear to be ahead of the pack. It’s very easy to find blog and wiki software to install behind-the-firewall, where your organization’s information will be safe. But social bookmarking and social networking tools are lagging behind a bit. This means that we may find wonderful social learning tools that we unfortunately cannot use safely at our organizations. Some examples are Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook; to my knowledge, these applications don’t have a separate, secure, option for private business use. I hope this is just a speedbump for social learning, and I hope we start to see more options for social learning tools that can be considered safe for business use. These may be open-source options, behind-the-firewall installations, or even protected/secure options for internet-based applications. But either way, just make sure you do your homework before rolling out any new tool that communicates out openly to the internet.

Does this ring true for anyone? Or can you suggest how we can use social learning tools without these risks?

Comments»

1. eLearning 2010 - June 4, 2008

We are looking at several tools to solve this problem, and so far, our pilot of a private / branded ignitecast.com is leading the pack.

We want information to flow freely WITHIN our company only!

The public verison of this site does allow for private content, but our marketing dept. insists we brand everything. I’ll bet the public site would work for smaller companies though.


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