By Perry Timms, CIPD Social Media Engagement Adviser, @PerryTimms
A quote from the CIPD's report Social Technology; Social Business? stood out for me:
"Learning and development – the use of social media and mobile technology to support e-learning products has not taken off in a major way, with eight in ten employees (78%) stating that their organisations don’t use social media to deliver learning and development at all."
80% of the people surveyed said that mostly free to use and widespread technology with millions of people and millions of articles with fabulous insight is actively ignored by organisations. *Face Palm*.
It took me back to the pre-social ban days in my last corporate role: when the bans were finally lifted, my use of social technologies overtook use of search engines; magazines and in many cases books for me to find information and get insight.
So I worked in an organisation that did terrific stuff in using social technologies to engage and inform it's customers and stakeholders. Yet for staff to use technologies like YouTube and Twitter, special permission was needed. I applied and being Head of OD I was cleared.
I used those social technologies all the time and so instead of moaning about this poor stat, I hope this blog opens more peoples' minds to lift bans and use social technologies as part of learning & development every day. There are massive gains to be made.
Be an "always on" learner
Of course social media helps you with your learning - it is one of the most reported benefits that people learn a lot from others. Because of the often random and serendipitous nature it is unlike conventional learning programmes of set exercises and insight and therefore you need to be alive to learning something which may not be relevant to you right now. So use of bookmarking tools (like Pocket and Evernote) should help you store fantastic insight you find on social networks. You will need to have the learning at every turn approach to make the most of it though. It will require some shifting in your attitude/approach.
Be a generous, sharing type
That you learn from others means in your social network so it is that others will learn from you - if you share of course. So when you find the latest research on phenomonology then post it to Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter and people in your network may also find this useful. Of course be clear that what you share is taken by others as read by you, useful and accurate so be aware that your reputation is at play here too. The more generous you are though, the more people will find you and follow you. Your followers on social networks will repost yours and then new people may come and link to you as "the sharer of good stuff."
Use searches, hashtags and questions in posts
If you DO need to learn something specific, then you can draw the insight to you by using searches similar to how you'd use a search engine. Hashtags are a marvellous invention for curating information so try a few combinations of those. Even if not the answer they may lead you to people who appear to know where to get the answer.
Build social media skills into your learning programmes
Growing self-sufficient and highly resourceful learners is every L&D professionals' dream. Giving people the ability to use social technologies in this way helps make people feel more easily with lifting bans and seeing the benefits of social media use within organisations.
Make the most of YouTube
Amongst all the cat videos and Harlem Shakes, there is a huge amount of learning material on YouTube. Take Dan Heath's Sticky Presentations as a good example. Bandwidth at work used to be an issue, but it shouldn't really. Most coffee shops have enough broadband to have patrons downloading video clips so workplaces really ought to be able to accommodate this. YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine on the web by the way.
So that's my few quick tips to making more of social media from a learning and development perspective.
I sincerely hope any survey repeat next year sees a LOT more people reporting the use of social technology for, well, social learning.
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