How Social Platforms Support Learning

Learning begins when training ends. That is a phrase you will often hear from any learning and development professional. Even the most interactive, simulation-based training does not compare to what we learn on-the-job, with a colleague relying on us to deliver what we were just taught.

Adult learning theory tells us that adults have different styles of learning and comprehension. Some of us really grasp concepts in a classroom and can apply them immediately to a real life scenario, many of us need to hear something, let it sink in, and then review what we have learned.  All of us learn and comprehend best when we are engaged with the material again and again.

So exactly how does all of this theory relate to social media?

Instructional designers can leverage different social platforms and integrate them into their curriculum. Different uses of social platforms can help fulfill different needs of adult learners.  Let’s discuss some examples…

Tweet Wall: When introducing training, lead a quick creative exercise where participants come up with a hashtag for the training, it can be something fun and creative- just ensure that it is unique. Then, ask participants to tweet comments, questions, thoughts, etc. to the hashtag. Ensure that you have set aside time throughout your session to answer questions tweeted to the hashtag and lead quick discussions around the comments and thoughts. You will be surprised how many colleagues are much more comfortable tweeting a question as opposed to raising their hand, disrupting the flow of the facilitator and brining extra attention on themselves. The tweet wall also allows everyone to learn each other’s twitter handles and follow each other, allowing for an extra avenue to stay in touch.  My favorite display to use? http://www.anothertweetonthewall.com/

Yammer: After the training, invite all the participants into a Yammer group. You can set-up these groups in different ways, by everyone in your organization who has completed the same level of training and sits in the same office, or by client, seniority, etc.  The important ingredient is that everyone in the yammer group is on the same training level and doing similar work. This way, after training, when everyone is back in their chair and perhaps does not remember exactly how to create the deliverable discussed in training, they can reach out to the Yammer group. This also gives learners a sense of security post-training; just because they are no longer in a classroom does not mean that they cannot still rely on their trainer, subject matter expert’s, and colleagues to help them learn.

Blogs: Have an ongoing training program that includes several sessions over the course of months? Is it difficult to ensure that all participants stay engaged between the sessions? Create a blog and ask participants to populate the blog. Blogs are a great way to help learners apply their knowledge in a different medium. Adult learning theory teaches us that a great way to instill comprehension is to ask a learner to explain something they just learned in their own words. Blogs don’t have to be boring, where the learners are only writing about esoteric training topics, they can be fun. Pick themes, ask participants to work in groups. What about asking everyone to create a video blog? Anything to keep people engaged and participating.

Social@Ogilvy takes social media training seriously. Not only do we develop interactive and robust training programs for our clients, but we have our own internal university. We have been training our colleagues in social media for seven years now, and our training program is only growing stronger. Have questions about the ideas above or any other learning and development comments? Reach out to me; I would love to hear from you.