Oct 20

Four roles for social media in workplace learning

Note from Jimmy Hua:

Social media is a great place to learn about many things. People with opinions typically put their knowledge on social media because it is a way for them to be able to validate themselves. Some do it because they want to transfer the knowledge and make the world a better place. However, different types of medium of social media allows you to learn in slightly different ways. The article below is written by someone that talks a little about this. Not in depth, but enough to give you a feel of it.

This post is shared through my Google Reader from another source. All credit of the post belongs to them which you can access by going to Four roles for social media in workplace learning

I write this as I travel to Birmingham to participate in a panel discussion with Nick Shackleton-Jones and Robin Hoyle on the role of social media in learning. The discussion forms part of the agenda for the World of Learning Conference, an event that I have enjoyed participating in for something like ten years now. Anyway, this post provides me with an opportunity to clarify my thoughts in preparation for the discussion.

There is no question whatsoever that social media is transforming our personal and business lives. I won’t re-iterate the statistics because you know already what a fundamental difference it makes to be so connected so comprehensively and so continuously. Whether or not l&d professionals or senior managers embrace social media doesn’t really matter in the long run, because there is no turning back, only futile resistance. The internet and mobile technologies are changing our lives as completely as the invention of writing, printing, the telephone and radio/TV have done in the past.

Should senior managers and those in l&d want to try and direct the use of social media to ensure a positive impact on learning and business performance, then there are at least four areas in which they can look:

Formal learning: There is considerable scope in longer, blended programmes, such as professional and postgraduate qualifications, and management development programmes to use social media as a vehicle for ongoing group collaboration:

  • the use of forums to discuss issues and share ideas
  • the use of blogs as learning journals
  • the use of wikis for group collaborative projects
  • sharing research using podcasts and videos

The exciting aspect of these approaches is in the changing role of online content, less as a top-down input from  tutors and more of an output from students to be shared with peers. I have been using these techniques for something like five years now and have never encountered any resistance. In some cases the results have been transformational.

Non-formal learning: Social learning also has a place outside the scope of formal courses but still in the cause of ongoing personal development:

  • the use of communities of practice to share new ideas and debate issues
  • the use of micro-blogging to quickly update peers on new developments

On-demand learning: A great deal of learning takes place on-demand, at the point of need. Organisations can do their best to satisfy the needs of employees for on-demand information but they will rarely be able to cover it all on a top-down basis. The gaps can be filled using social media:

  • the use of social networks to find sources of expertise or offer your own expertise to others
  • content sharing (text, screencasts, podcasts, etc.) in the familiar YouTube fashion

Experiential learning: Learning at work is as much about ‘learning from’ as it is ‘learning to’. We learn through our own experiences and the experiences of those around us, but only if we make a conscious effort to reflect. Here is where blogging can play a valuable role. I know this discipline will not be for everybody, but for those that really engage the opportunities for learning exceed all others.

We have got by without all these techniques in the past and many organisations will make a determined effort to get by without them in the future. They may do this with the best of intentions, but they will be missing opportunities, opportunities that their competitors may well be exploiting.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.jimmyhua.com/2010/10/20/four-roles-for-social-media-in-workplace-learning/

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  1. Tweets that mention Four roles for social media in workplace learning | Edging -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grad Lab, Jimmy Hua. Jimmy Hua said: Four roles for social media in workplace learning http://bit.ly/dqC0vJ […]

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