Monday, November 09, 2009

Social Media in Training

I keep seeing lots of "tips for using social media tools in training" but not many concrete examples. Certainly the bigger goal is to help training become less an event and more a process, and to support ways for workers to form communities and interact with one another -- not just with the trainer. But there are plenty of strategies for using Web 2.0 tools to support instruction as well as inform formative and summative evaluation. Here are just a few:

Twitter -- provide activities that recognize the 140-character constraint

Get-to-Know-You, Advance Assessment: "Please tell us your name and the ‘3 keywords’ that represent your mission, philosophy, focus, or priorities."; "Please state the one thing you most hope to get out of this class".

As both a review and means of formative assessment, conduct an A-Z Summary of past class content, live or webinar session, etc. Ask each participant to tweet one thing they’ve learned. Each item should start with a different letter of the alphabet, from A-Z, with no repeats:

Facebook -- Leverage Facebook's more robust discussion areas and built-in tools like photos and events:

To help maintain learning and community after training, create a fan page or group for graduates of your corporate Leadership Academy. Start (or ask for volunteers) regularly scheduled discussions of topics relevant to all graduates: Ethics, Sales, Retaining Talent.

Have learners enrolled in a course conduct an environmental scan, taking cell-phone photos in their worksites of items such as signage, furniture, office layouts, etc. that support or conflict with the stated company mission. (If the company mission is to "Consider all employees as equal partners", then why are there executive parking spaces?) Ask participants to put photos in a Facebook photo album. Use as the basis for discussing disconnects, planning actions for aligning management strategy, and plans for leading the change.

Create a blog post asking learners to provide a 100-word recap of the critical takeaways from the past session.

Post a link to an article, YouTube or CNN video clip (think customer service, conflict management, empowered employees, workers in trouble) and invite learner responses. Facilitate comments to elicit further discussion among the participants.

For a management development program, ask each Friday for a quick response to something critical to the course, such as, “List 5 things you caught people doing right this past week.”


Use the wiki's inherent 'database' structure to start capturing collective knowledge within the organization. Invite course participants (and then, perhaps, the rest of the organization) to contribute tips for things like: Retaining top performers; improving existing processes; recruitment strategies; success stories.

Have workers create a map of an existing process, then work together to edit/create a new, better process.

Ideas for other activities?

NOTE: This is copyrighted material to appear in Bozarth, J. (Summer 2010) Social Media in Training. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.


Joe Deegan said...

Hi Jane,
You are absolutely right. Everyone talks about using social media in training but nobody backs it up with examples of how they are using it. For me it has been a struggle gaining participation from learners when utilizing social media tools but I have experienced some success with structured activities like your examples. I think you have to formalize the informal to get things kick started.
An example I am working on right now is going to be part of a product knowledge training program for sales people using a discussion board. The instructor will start threads labeled with various product features then the learners will be required to post what we call "FABRs" for a minimum of 2 features. An FABR is basically a sales close for a feature. The goal of this will be to build a database of FABR's and to share best practices.
My comment is getting a little long winded so I hope you don't mind if I close it off with a link to a blog post detailing the struggles and wins I have had using social media in training.

Jane Bozarth said...

Joe-- Long comments welcome! As you recognize,so much focus goes into organizational acceptance of SoMe,culture change, and influencing the C-Level. And yes, of course developing a learning culture, a social learning climate, and a community for sharing knowledge are our bigger goals.

But lots of my friends are "just" trainers, and while many do work to have a voice and cultivate organization-wide influence, most are just trying to do their jobs. And most of those are looking for new approaches -- especially low cost ones!-- that will engage their learners and let them utilize new technologies, but they don't know where to start. While building some Web 2.0-based activities into traditional training may not in itself bring about culture change, I don't see any harm coming from a multi-front attack!

Andreea said...

Hi Jane,

Some trainers in Germany are using the blog as a discussion board. You can ask questions and give feedback about your experience. So far nothing really new.
But the most intersting thing is, how the trainers are answering the questions of their learners.They produce a short videoclip. In the videoclip they schow how to deal with certain problems. This videoclip you can wath even from your mobile phone. For the learners who are travelling a lot it's a very comfortable way to learn from the others.

Thomas R. Stone said...

Blog - Have instructor post a couple weeks prior to the training event, asking the ubiquitous question "What do you hope to learn / hope to benefit from this training?" Rather than it being simply a nicety at beginning of training event (kinda too late), the instructor can actually adjust curriculum based on responses (blog comments) since done well in advance.

Social networking profiles of students -- connect learners to each other a few weeks before the training event. They can learn about each other (and the instructor) -- history with organization, other work history, education background, areas of expertise, hobbies and interests -- whatever they are comfortable sharing. How much better will the P2P learning, how much better will the relationships between learners be? If I know the stranger next to me shares some common interests, I'm more likely to talk with them during the snack breaks, etc.

Forums and/or Blog Comments -- a great way to combat the Forgetting Curve that will set in after a formal learning event, and/or between the training dates of an extended, several month-long training program. Rather than waste 30 minutes recalling what was taught last time, if people ask/answer application or reflective level questions in forum or blog between the events, they will not only permanently, they won't need the refresher at class 2, class 3, etc.

Just some of the examples I give in my "Blending Web 2.0 Technologies with Traditional Formal Learning" conference/webinar presentations. :-)

Angela said...

The NC State Fair used Facebook in 2009 in a very successful and engaging manner. While it may have been more of a marketing endeavor, I do think there are training lessons to be learned from it. Check it out.