Applying principles of the sharing economy to corporate learning


We all know the value of feedback. We have heard so much about it in the news, on social media and in casual conversation. In a large sense, feedback is a key component to what drives the sharing economy – which involves the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. Take Uber for example; we feel safer when we take an Uber because we know about the person who is picking us up, thanks to ratings and comments (feedback) in the Uber app. That feeling of safety works for the resource lender, as well. With Airbnb, hosts know about their guests based again, on feedback received through the site. When temporarily renting out open space in homes, hosts can rest easy knowing their occupants have a good track record and will likely do no harm to the property.

So how do sharing economy principles like feedback apply to corporate learning? With learning, feedback is taken a few steps further. In order to truly trust the content being consumed, it’s important for learners to look beyond the simple ratings and reviews of information by people unknown to the individual. The learner should have full trust in both the content itself and in the source providing feedback. How is that trust established?

The answer: combining content with network

Let’s explore the concept of combining content and network. Say an employee who just started working with a company is looking for the best resources that offer insight into his industry, but he is unsure of where to begin searching. Now, let’s say this employee has access to a central hub that combines only the most reputable business content (books, videos, etc.) from a diverse pool of publishers. These publishers have spent time working with authors, then editing topics to provide context within a defined group of curated assets – thus verifying every piece of content.

Within the same hub, say the employee also has access to a professional network of colleagues from within the company, as well as respected experts from across the globe. With everyone in the network accessing the same curated content – those who understand both the company and the industry best – the search for answers will not only be less time consuming (efficiency, yet another facet of the sharing economy), but much more trustworthy.

Cue the feedback
Now that we understand what it means to provide content with network and how combining the two elements can increase efficiency, it is important that we tie feedback back into the overall concept. In doing so, we’ll be able to truly grasp how principles of the sharing economy apply to corporate learning.

In a platform that combines curated content and professional network, learning officers can establish groups on behalf of their company. Within these groups, administrators are empowered to recommend the best resources to reference in order to complete different projects or catch up on the latest trends. These content recommendations serve as trusted feedback because the person making the recommendation is known by the employees. Employees trust their learning officers and managers.

To break it down further, group members are able to act on feedback given, as well as offer their own by changing the original learning resource. Modifying concepts allows for better customization, and new ideas can improve original resources. Employees may substitute sections of a learning path or change concepts by offering their own intellectual resources. They are then empowered to share the modified content, based on their own feedback, with colleagues using collaborative tools.

And since group members all know and trust one another, the exchange of continuous feedback and the collaborative results obtained through the exchange will be more meaningful than if an individual was collaborating or receiving feedback from someone unknown – say, on the internet.

What about the industry experts?
Within the central hub, we talked about employees having access to industry experts as another source for receiving feedback. Outside of groups and recommendations from learning officers, employees can conduct their own resource searches. Based on keywords, employees will retrieve content, sometimes in the form of short learning modules produced by experts.

Again, employees can choose to engage with these experts and exchange ideas in the same way they would with their colleagues through the company group. The more an expert is engaged with through the platform, the more credible he or she becomes. By reviewing comments and feedback within the experts’ networks, or by communicating directly with them to offer new ideas, employees can establish trust – even if they don’t know the person personally.

The concepts discussed in this article – combining curated content and network for increased efficiency; using collaborative tools to offer and receive feedback based on previously published content; and ultimately, sharing intellectual resources in the form of new ideas – shows just how well the sharing economy can tie in with corporate learning. By combining all of these facets into one platform, corporate learning programs morph into modern learning ecosystems that fuel quality content consumption and creation, thus inspiring employees to think differently.
LID Publishing, the publisher of Dialogue is related to Knowledge in Action, the owner of the BlueBottleBiz platform. Elosua serves as founder and CEO for both entities.