While the concept of social learning is nothing new (example – see Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory), the idea of using social media to encourage informal learning in the workplace has been generating a lot of buzz in recent years.
Several weeks ago, the New York Times published an article that examined how several companies – from Nikon to Dell – are beginning – and continuing – to adopt social networking websites into their offices. Business social networking tools such as Chatter from Salesforce.com and Yammer have seen significant increases in their clientele population from last year, and now boost over 80,000 corporate customers each.
A survey analysis released by Federal Computer Week in March of this year further revealed how 46 percent – nearly half – of senior government employees are now allowed access to social media websites at work, an increase from 20 percent last year.
So why the change? The key idea is that having a common social network makes it easier for employees to collaborate on projects, share advice with one another, ask for help from more experienced colleagues, and gain feedback from their peers.
In fact, the same survey cites different reasons that federal workers give for accessing Facebook at work: 26 percent use it for research; 26 percent for communication with colleagues; 17 percent for communication with the public; 8 percent for communication with other agencies; and 4 percent for recruitment purposes.
So what does this trend mean for educators and trainers?
It means that the traditional instructor-and-student model – in which one trainer, or expert, “imparts” all the knowledge, and the students simply “receive” it through a series of passive sessions – is no longer enough for effective learning. Rather, it should strive to be accessible to its students anytime anywhere, enabling quick “on-the-job” learning.
Training now has to be available on-demand, from anywhere, and be pulled at the time of need. It needs to constantly encourage informal social learning and discussions among its students and teachers via some kind of channel – social media or otherwise – that allows for easy communication and collaboration. It should provide students with an opportunity where they can discuss ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback to the instructor and to each other – an environment where social learning can truly take place.
Organizations Are Using Social Media For Collaboration & Sha