What is Social Media?
“Social media learning refers to the acquisition of information and skills through social technologies that allow people to collaborate, converse, provide input, create content and share it.” – The Learning Coach
Evolving Technologies as a Tool for Social Learning
Evolving technologies like Facebook have been seen to be a phenomenal success across the world. With a user base that is rapidly approaching 900 million, individuals spend an average of 7.5 hours on the site each month. Companies often limit access to Facebook in the workplace, but the reality is that they are missing out on an opportunity to harness an incredibly versatile tool for social learning.
Advantages to Trainers Using Facebook
- It is easily accessible and represents a largely free alternative to more expensive social learning platforms.
- The majority of users will already be familiar with Facebook, hence learning can be immediately focused on the actual course material as opposed to getting to grips with how to use the learning platform.
- It incorporates an array of rich learning tools including videos, images, discussion boards, chat features and private messaging.
- It is easy to use and equally intuitive for trainers and learners alike.
- It can be used to host an entire stand-alone course, in combination with other social media platforms like Twitter, or as a viable supplement to a traditional classroom-based learning environment.
- The difficulties of getting learners in one location at the same time are non-existent, making it the perfect solution for delivering training content to remote workers spread over a wide geographical area. Course materials are available 24/7 and events can be scheduled in real-time with an instant view of who will be attending.
- It promotes instant and consistent collaboration and discussion between learners on the same course.
- It will direct updates from trainers and learners to the newsfeed of individual members without them specifically logging in to the learning environment. Members can also subscribe to receive group updates via RSS feeds. Important information is seamlessly delivered without the need for an individual user to log in to the platform.
- Using Facebook as a platform for learning can level the playing field between trainers and learners. The perceived hierarchy is broken down somewhat, since everyone is collaborating together.
- Using Facebook is fun. That much is proven by the astonishing user statistics. If learning is enjoyable and undertaken with peers, the whole process is likely to be more successful thanks to a higher degree of motivation.
Facebook undoubtedly offers a rich multimedia platform to promote social learning and collaboration. Its relevance to modern lifestyles is noted across the world and there are moves to allow the use of the technology, albeit a restricted version, as a learning tool for children of elementary school age. With the 30+ demographic of Facebook users rapidly increasing, there is absolutely no reason why adult learners can’t get in on the act.
Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. She is a full-time writer and published author specializing in social media, technology and entrepreneurship.
If you are interested in using a social learning management system (LMS) that is branded and secure, but has many of the features comment on above, get a free LMS demo of TOPYX® by using the form below: