Using social media for training doesn’t look like traditional e-learning content. With social media, learners can find, create and share their own instructional content and build their knowledge by connecting and interacting with others.
This shift in how content is created changes the way employees learn at work. Course designers need to make even more decisions about delivery options and reconsider their ideas of how learning occurs.
Many organizations are blending the best of learning methods with social media to provide access to a rich variety of e-learning. Here are five social media solutions organizations have implemented:
1. Social networking: Using an online social network, employees fill out profiles with information about themselves. Learners develop connections by becoming “friends” with others and get to know others by reading, interacting or listening to what they have to say. This is how people develop relationships online.
JetBlue fosters such relationships by keeping JetBlue University’s 200 faculty members connected and sharing training best practices in a collaborative environment. Murry Christensen, director of learning technologies, said, “The bottom-up creation of the social networking platform is just one of the reasons we’ve been successful. Other reasons include JetBlue’s collaborative culture, senior management support and the faculty’s ability to run with the new technology.”
2. Presence technologies: These are services used to communicate by using technology, including texting, instant messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Online presence indicators alert others of a user’s availability and also can provide the immediate feedback often lacking in self-paced e-learning. IBM uses technologies to enable learners who want instant expertise on any subject to immediately find and connect with experts.
Online tools include support teaming, collaboration, knowledge reuse and question answering. “Expert answers become automatically tagged and archived so that our experts need not answer the same question twice,” said Peter Orton of IBM’s Center for Advanced Learning.
3. Wikis: These tools allow Web pages to be created and edited by multiple people using a Web browser. Charles Beckham, CTO of Sun Microsystems, described how its Collaborative Learning Environment is built completely on a wiki. “Using a wiki afforded us built-in elements designed specifically to encourage participation. Learners can add their own content including documents, pages, ratings, tags and comments. The use of a wiki for new-hire recruiting and orientation has been a tremendous success. We have found in post-hire surveys that many new employees were influenced by the experience they had,” he said.
4. Blogs: These give learners the means to publish content in the form of text, images, video, audio or other digital content. Learners are able to interact with experts, content, each other and management. Grisell Camacho and her team at HP use blogs that combine formal and informal learning methods by providing a shared authorship between HP learning and development, course vendors and experts from the learner’s organization.
“Less-experienced learners contribute by providing their thoughts, questions and reflection on the covered topics as blog posts. We encourage the blog authors to include supporting images, as well as video and audio podcasts (“vlogging”) to educate the learners in an engaging or entertaining way. Feedback from learners indicates that inclusion of these elements demonstrates a broader range of the content-sharing options available through social media and creates a richer learning experience overall.”
5. Video: Video lets e-learning go beyond simple text and graphics. Thanks to new, inexpensive digital video cameras, Web cameras on desktop monitors, and laptops and cell phones with built-in video cameras, the use of video in e-learning has proliferated. The IBM Center for Advanced Learning uses the IBM Media Library, similar to YouTube, as an internal repository for IBM employees to share and rate video and audio assets, many of which are of IBMers sharing their stories of company values and successes. It now contains tens of thousands of videotaped contributions, Orton said.
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