There is a lot of excitement being generated around using Social Media for learning and with good reason. Social Media tools support Informal Learning which is recognized as the primary way that people learn (an interview with Jay Cross author of “Informal Learning”). However, some of this buzz reminds me of the early days of eLearning when it was proclaimed that “classroom training is dead” (see this article from way back in 1996). Obviously, classroom training is still predominant (Bersin). In reality ELearning was used to augment existing efforts. The conversation began to make more sense when people started talking about a blended approach. Now with Social Media, people are talking about using it to augment formal training, but the question is how (Jane Hart does a great job of articulating the struggle in her slide share.) Here are some ideas to get you started on thinking of opportunities to add social media to your formal training. These ideas can be used with internal (Yammer, SharePoint) or external (Twitter, Facebook) tools depending on your organizations comfort level with the reality of people connecting beyond the firewall.
Start a discussion before a class
All of the time spent in the classroom, covering the learning objectives and learner expectations can be covered asynchronously before hand so that when the students arrive at class, they can get right to the content.
Start a discussion after a class
Involving learners in the topics after the class aids in retention. The collaborative nature of discussion groups and the convenience of asynchronous activity, makes this a perfect tool for increasing the effectiveness of a learning program. It also helps the instructor/ID get feedback on the quality of the course.
Use a Wiki to get the class to collaborate on a glossary
For technical training and even soft skills and leadership training, terminology becomes the biggest challenge. A Wiki serves the dual-purpose of getting students to work through their understanding of terms together and to have a lasting and learner-focused reference for the topic.
Introduce the instructor to the class through a Twitter/Yammer feed
Establishing a report and credibility with a class is a key need for an instructor. The ability to achieve this online before the class can increase the instructor’s effectiveness in the class.
Have the students post videos/photos of their assignments
This covers both the visual nature of learning and the old admonition of “Involve me and I’ll understand.”
Have the instructor blog and the students comment on their posts
This makes it possible to extend the learning and the ensuing discussion would help both the learners and the instructor to get more out of the experience.
Create a follow up page in Facebook/SharePoint
A page in an existing system can be much easier to produce than a static website or an eLearning module. The ability to review information when the need for the knowledge comes up is very important to learners.
Use RSS to reach out to students over time after completing course
If the population gets into the habit of using RSS readers, learning professionals can establish an ongoing retention program through updates to content.
Schedule Twitter/Yammer chats for realtime discussions
If you’ve ever used a Twitterchat, like #lrnchat, you know it can be a fun and enriching way to learn. The immediacy of connecting with other people live on a topic of mutual interest makes it a positive experience to add to a learning program.
Have students create/update profiles to be available as a resource for the topic
This gets into the area of Knowledge Management. All Social Media tools have searchable profiles and this is a perfect opportunity to identify people who can mentor others after the course.
In later posts, I will be talking about the impact of Social Media on the use of Learning Management Systems.
I’d love to hear your ideas on using Social Media in learning.