sociaL LeaRning

The title of this post might be a little misleading, but “snapchat made me think twice about what i was doing as a learning professional” seemed a bit long.

Not long ago, Snapchat introduced “lenses” or “filters” for their application.  For those of you who don’t know what Snapchat is, it’s an application you can download to your phone that captures images to send to friends.  Where the differentiation comes is that with Snapchat, your images are only “live” for 10 seconds and then they disappear.  Making inappropriate or more edgy messages a little less risky.  It’s essentially seen as an app that teens and young people use and probably has little uptake outside of affairs in most adult’s lives.

Except mine, of course.  As the parent of three young people and an involved aunt to teenagers, I’m on Snapchat and regularly use it.  My pictures are not especially edgy and often are funny views of the dog with some silly saying attached.  I have a friend who lives in Qatar and occasionally we send images of what our landscapes look like.  It’s all on the up and up and trust me – we’re getting to how this applies to learning.

So as I was saying, Snapchat introduced a feature called “lenses” where you can add filters to your images – turning your selfie into an old lady, a viking, a rainbow puking something or other, and other silliness.  Here’s where it gets to learning.

I received a snap from my daughter and opened it.  It was her as a raccoon, and quite amusing.  A day later I received another, where she was a bunny.  Another as a viking.  You get the idea.  While silly, it was kind of cool and my interest had been piqued.  I looked around the app and couldn’t quite figure out how to make these lenses happen.  The usual kind of background stuff existed, but this new stuff was not accessible.

So what did I do?  I googled it.

I googled “snapchat changes” and immediately got about 3000 hits, the first few talking about the new “lenses” available.  I clicked on one and scanned it, but it was a news release and largely uninteresting and didn’t tell me how to use it.  The second one I clicked on explained, in about two sentences, how one uses the new lenses feature.  I nodded, shut the link, and opened Snapchat to send a rather questionable photo of myself, as diva with cucumbers over her eyes and a turban on her head, to my daughter.  I had learned something!

Quickly, on my own, unprompted by mandate.  I remembered how to do it the next time I opened Snapchat.  I taught my husband when he said, “how do you do that??” and began to experiment within the app to see what else I’d missed.  This was self-directed learning!  It was quick and useful and there when I needed it.  If Snapchat had emailed me or messaged me in the app to tell me about updates and offered links to learn them I would have erased it without reading it.  If I had read it before being interested in it I would have forgot how to do it when I really needed it.

I want that sort of environment as learning culture.




I read this article recently on flexibility. It’s about business flexibility and the necessity for change in organizations and companies.  It has resonance for the learning community.

I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I suggest that the company I work for is going through some organizational changes.  Let’s face it, if it wasn’t, that’s an entirely different area to worry about.  Now, I tend to be an early adopter to most change, and face things with a pragmatism that can be downright annoying (or so I hear), but change causes anxiety even in those of us most embracing to change.

Articles like the one I link to often talk about business change – being flexible and nimble as a business.  But I find that learning teams could also use this advice – we’re often knee deep in gap analysis or a program when an organization shifts – and we quickly have to adapt to support the changes, even when we don’t have insight into the motivation or direction of the change.  Even when the change may impact our own role in the organization.

I like this article for its practicality and transferable ideas.  The three strategies presented are listen, really listen, and keep an open mind.

Listen – as learning professionals, we need to listen what the business and what the employees are saying about the change and what may be required to support it.  If we were not at the table during the change management portion of the change, this may serve as our gap analysis to what needs to be done post-change.

Really Listen – as learning professionals, we may need to ask specifically how learning can support the change.  We may need to pull out the “what’s in it for me” along with “what’s in it for the business” as we seek to partner with the business during change to ensure its success.

Open your Mind – as learning professionals, we may agree or disagree with the change, but we need to be open to what the change may bring and the role we may play in it.  This is an opportunity to be innovative and flex our creativity as we support people through the change and foster new strategy into the organization.

One of my favourite aspects of learning is the flexibility required to change priorities and meet people’s needs as they navigate their careers.