The use of social networks for learning in organisations is a difficult topic. Just the very notion of having a platform (be it private, public or anything in between) that allows employees to share information sends the blood of the legal and compliance minds in organisations racing.
In a recent #NZlead Twitter chat (if you haven’t tried yet, you should! we use the hashtag every Thursday morning, 7am UK time) we talked about social HR and found out that we value the diverse group of people around us. But it isn’t as easy as that.
Then not long ago, Edutopia released a guide for using Social Media in the classroom. Amalgamating lessons learnt from these, I give you a quick guide for using social media in the corporate classroom:
Twitter for light-bulb moments
Twitter is a great medium for short, snappy comments. Use it to have your learners post their lightbulb moments, takeaways, and times where they find their learning comes to its own in their working environment. Encourage students to do it at specific times when teaching (be it online or face to face), encourage them to do it when they work (so long as safety isn’t hindered).
From an organisational standpoint, you get real information about what the students are taking from their learning into their working life. Isn’t that something we constantly try to measure?
Blogging as a reflective tool
Gone are the learning logs of yore. Plain, long, dull word documents (or web forms, *shudder*) where students are asked prescribed questions that are often aimed at the lowest common denominator. Enter the digital era, and blogs, vlogs, pic-of-the-day type interactions can allow you and your learners reflect on learning in real time. What a great way to cement the road between learning and assimilation and the fertile ground for continual improvement, creativity and innovation from within.
Podcasts/YouTube instead of written projects
Yes, people can write a paper for you to read. They can provide evidence. Consider a video as part of those evidence. This is a great tool to showcase practices in hidden corners of the organisation. It also opens up channels between fragmented parts of the organisation or ones where geography is a barrier to people being exposed to experiences in other countries.
Video making and editing is simple and cheap, not every video has to be nominated for a Webby! As a result of this, your organisation gets real evidence of how learning is applied, and channels between parts of the organisation are opened up to each other. Cooperation and cross fertilisation will ensue.
Groups as an informal setting for support and problem resolution
I would recommend using groups in a commonly used and readily available social network that everybody’s on. This way they can engage all the time – whether they are at work or on the way to/from work, or in front of the TV at home.
I’ve previously written about how collaborative working is social learning, and that’s the whole point here. It also allows learners to continue mulling the content outside the classroom and work. If they have a question, a comment, an issue – the group is the best place for it.
As an organisation, this is a fantastic record that will help you build two ongoing practices: the first will allow you to identify issues with the understanding or the knowledge of the topic, the other will allow learners to help improve the practices they have learnt.
Cooperate with other learners and other classrooms
This is an augmentation on the previous point. If you are part of a large enough organisation that would allow you to keep it all in house – you may. There is, however, great merit for involving outsiders. Not only will you be getting fresh eyes and input to issues you are suffering from, but you will also be showing off that your employees are listened to, learning and cared for. Money can’t buy you this kind of publicity.
Another added plus is being able to reach out to partners, suppliers and customers who provide helpful input to learners on an ongoing basis.
Share the learning
If you get case studies from the learning interaction – share them with the organisation. You may also find that some case studies are good to share with suppliers and even customers, depending (of course) on the project.
Last but not least – set ground rules
Social networks can be difficult to manage, invasive and – frankly – creepy. When you do use them, be clear with ground rules, but try to not make it draconian so it’s easy to follow and play to.
What do you think? How have you been using social media in your corporate classrooms? Let us know – comment below!
If you have more questions about using social media in corporate learning initiatives, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Photo credit to shed via sxc.hu.