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Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Power of Social Media

The Power of Social Media

I’ve now gone past the ‘wow’ factor with Social Media (SoMe) to appreciate just what SoMe tools can do in the world of Learning and Development. Here are a few thoughts.


The tools

Well, for starters, there are so many of them and they are increasing on an almost monthly basis. If you want to see a list of some of them then look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media which also provides a neat classification. Also Jane Hart (http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/) the UK’s leading SoMe guru (I hope she will forgive me for describing her thus) provides a ToolsZoNE area on her website, which lists over 2,000 tools in 12 categories.

But which ones are useful for L&D purposes? Again Jane Hart (http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/index.html) lists 100 top tools as voted for by 278 learning professionals worldwide in 2009. Interestingly ‘Twitter’ is ranked the number one tool. Delicious is ranked second with You Tube, Google Reader and Google Docs forming the top five respectively.

So, without a doubt, many SoMe tools are not only suitable for L&D purposes but they are also being used more and more by the profession.


The power

Although it is relatively early days with using SoMe tools for learning, particularly formal learning, there is a number of interesting reports from people who have embedded the use of these tools into their L&D programmes. One of the most recent reports from Jane Hart (I hope she doesn’t start to get a complex!) can be found at http://bit.ly/9XyYXL which details Jane’s experience of using Twitter in a face-to-face workshop. If you want to know ‘how’ just read her write-up as it’s excellent.

On 30 April the topic for #lrnchat was ‘Enterprise 2.0’. I expected the ‘chat’ to be about Enterprise 2.0 platforms but to my delight it focused on Enterprise 2.0 tools, i.e. SoMe tools. You can find a transcript of the chats on this topic at http://lrnchat.com/. It was interesting to discover that only a relatively few people had actually managed successfully to embed some of these tools into their current L&D programmes.

Apart from IT issues, such as IT departments/controls which block or act as a negative influence on the use of such tools, there are some other factors which, seemingly, are limiting their use. Factors such as getting buy-in from the ‘hierarchy’, the ability of learners to use the tools, a limited vision as to how these tools can be used effectively and not just because they are available, and how to ‘manage’ their use by the L&D profession, appear to be some of current constraints.

However, in the next year or so I expect to see the increasing use of SoMe tools in L&D as current constraints are overcome. It is their power and potential which will come to the fore and survive, believe me!

Many thanks to my growing network of L&D folk, without whom I would not have been able to write this post.