Using Social Media to Make Learning Stick

Social media is becoming more mainstream today – for internal and external networking, job searching, to publicize upcoming external learning opportunities (particularly webinars), and for some training applications.

Why is social media helpful to make learning stick? We have known for some time that “single loop” learning (that is, one exposure to learning content) is less effective than “douple loop” or multiple exposures. Social media tools – Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook are the big three – provide easy opportunities to stay in touch with trainees before and after formal learning events. Here are a few suggestions gleaned from my personal experience, recent articles and personal conversations:

  1. Host a post-training discussion/support group on Linked In (or your internal intranet). Ask 2-3 open-ended questions that will encourage discussion of the ideas and how people are applying – or think they might apply – them. Don’t be discouraged if people are reluctant to participate at first. Experience has shown that as more people become involved, participation tends to grow. I’m also finding that many people read others’ posts but don’t post themselves. While this behavior can be frustrating for the facilitator, people are usually learning even though they’re not actively participating.

  2. Use Twitter afer training to send periodic reminders to use and practice newly acquired behaviors. The reminders can be set up ahead of time, for your convenience. Short emails can also be used.

  3. Use Twitter before a learning event, to get a quick “read” on trainees’ interest in particular areas/topics in the training or simply to build positive expectations about upcoming training. (Hint: use short testimonials from previous participants).

  4. Use Facebook for pre-training and post-training discussions, in the same way Linked In can be used, but with photos, PowerPoint slides, or other visuals. Remember, Neurolinguistic Programming tells us that 60% of learners prefer to take in information visually.

  5. During a learning event, ask participants to submit their questions to you via Twitter or cell phone email. A trainer I recently spoke with has found that some learners who are reluctant to raise their hand will use this means to ask questions.

Personal note: I’m currently taking the best blended learning I’ve ever had, as a learner. The design is simple. A one hour webinar was scheduled. One week before this event, 2-3 open-ended, thought-provoking discussion questions were posted on a discussion board, and participants posted comments, asked follow-up questions, etc. And yes, some people didn’t participate, but my guess is that they read the posts. The webinar was held yesterday, with the usual format of a 45 minute presentation with PowerPoint slides and 15 minutes of Q and A, with the questions submitted in writing via the webinar platform. Post-event discussion questions and a practice assignment have now been posted on the discussion board and participants will have one week to post. The software for the discussion board happens to be proprietary, but could just as easily be Linked In or Facebook.

More and more people are using social media, on and off the job. As a trainer, are you keeping up? Do you still consider training to be a one-time event or a process? How can you use social media tools to strengthen the learning process and help make your training stick?

Until next time…


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