Organizations make significant investments in creating training content. However, in this researcher’s experience of nearly 20 years in learning and learning technologies mostly in a corporate environment, and observed through an unpublished study, when given the opportunity to informally ask an expert or learn through formal training, a vast majority of people will chose to ask an expert. Social media tools like microblogs have emerged that can assist organizations in connecting people just when they need it.

A microblogging service allows users to post short “status updates” via an instant messaging-type tool on users’ desktops, through a web page, or through a cell phone. As an example, Twitter is a popular microblog that anyone and everyone has access to. This research focuses on Yammer, because it is a microblogging platform used by organizations that is secure—meaning that only people within the organization have access to it. Yammer asks the following question: “What are you working on?” People in an organization can sign up to “follow” each other to submit and read these short updates in just a few seconds.

In a work setting, such as that of a training consulting firm, a consultant may find out that someone is “designing a new curriculum for advanced pharmaceutical representatives”. This consultant may read such an update from a colleague she would not normally reach out to. However, upon reading such an update the consultant may contact this colleague to learn more because she may be doing something similar. This could open up an opportunity to brainstorm, learn and share. As people continue to use the microblog, they read each other’s updates and reach out to help. “Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge (Locke, Levine, Searls, & Weinberger, 2000, p. 183).” Maybe the colleague has a great research paper or framework they are using as part of their engagement that the consultant could learn from and maybe even use in her current project. This is an example of something that can provide the consultant performance support, informal learning and maybe even enhanced performance, and ironically, she may have never become aware of it otherwise. Therefore microblogs can be the ultimate performance support and informal learning tool: Proving support when employees don’t even know they need it, and offering a network of people, a community of practice, to reach out to when they do know they need it.

This is a section of a research study, to read more, go to the Table of Contents.

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