The use of Social Media in a Learning Solution
I am increasingly being asked to create and design modular learning programmes that provide flexibility and choice around instructor-led (classroom) training. By embedding practical application at the core of the programme design, allows participants to apply knowledge learned consistently throughout the programme and build skills in a guided, safe environment. More importantly, they not only learn from the subject matter experts but from each other.
In a recent report ‘Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning’ the author, Jane Bozarth, says that “Training strategies incorporating social media tools can help learners become more aware of their own learning process, more mindful of and deliberate about their own learning, and encourage them to take ownership of learning and then apply it to their jobs”. It is this social aspect of learning that can be really beneficial in allowing individuals to extend the learning.
Recent projects I have managed have included the use of social media tools (Facebook/Twitter/Forums) as just one element of the learning options. We use these tools to:
- Create communities that learn from each other many weeks before the 5 days they spend in the classroom with an expert
- Set pre-course work and to ensure knowledge levels were at the appropriate stage before an event
- Facilitate discussion of the actual content of a course allowing the delegates to have an influence on the delivered content
- Create FAQ areas to help groups of people benefit from their own experiences and share the knowledge with other
- Extend learning programmes where the groups are attending multiple sessions. We have encouraged group interaction using social media tools and allowed access to the instructor similar to a Facebook profile
- Allow delegates to keep in touch with instructors after the event to help them prepare for exams
- Provide additional learning so delegates can refresh their skills and knowledge after the event
- Provide product updates (by using video-based learning) and therefore removing the need for additional courses to understand the changes
And the use of social media doesn’t end there. Detailed reporting which tracks student attendance, performance and interactivity can be a valuable tool in helping to develop future content.
When used effectively, social media undoubtedly offers new ways of engaging students. I have experienced the full benefits of incorporating these tools into a learning solution at an individual-level and also for the organisation. By extending the learning or using alternative media to deliver part of the training programme saves time and money, whilst also keeping individuals skills up-to-date.