Social Networking – a Strategy for Learning?

After many conversations with colleagues internally there is a real vision around the eLearning agenda and much of it overlaps with the future of social networking and social media.

What i see as a vision is that what society is doing in social media and social networking now is essentially informal learning and sharing of knowledge. It just so happens to be more fluid and flexible and based around people then around learning topics like most things are now.

Learning for me works differently, it is something that happens in conversations and in meeting new people, in being challenged about my ideas and the way i work. It is also more formal in that i may study or participate in learning sets etc.

Essentially though learning is about about networking with people who can help you on that journey either through providing a structure or framework (facilitation, training, tutors etc) or by providing the sounding board for discussions. (forums, classes, networks etc)

This is essentially how young people are learning in the class room, asking questions first about who can help them achieve the aim as opposed to working individually and alone to resolve an issue.

Social networking can really help transform society and our learning if we allow it to enter all aspects of our lives. We don’t just need to think about technology as we are generally all connected with people offline.

The challenge is for organisations to embrace a culture of learning and to allow people to develop and create new connections with people as part of a journey of learning throughout their working life.

I have much more to think about in relation to our internal social networking pilot and the potential for this to stimulate a true learning culture. I’ll keep you posted. :o)

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2 Replies to “Social Networking – a Strategy for Learning?”

  1. I agree with this this and recently posted a blog posting to the same effect on my work blog.

    That said, I also have to ask how we move this forward. My facebook and Twitter friends and followers vary a great deal in terms of age, profession and technological capability. However, on the whole, the only teachers or tutors I have on it are learning technologists or e-learning leads.

    As you say, social networking is about learning. However, we need to move on from the idea that learning is about teachers at the front of the class giving information and that technology is about a suite of PCs. How do we change a mindset to show that learning is about discovery and that teaching is simply about facilitating that discovery?

    Other challenges are:

    – Teachers can learn from learners and learners can teach teachers
    – This informal learning often (if not always) takes place outside the classroom….so where does that leave the teacher’s professional Vs personal relationships etc
    – Classroom management needs to move from focussing conversation to focussing online activity

    No doubt there are many more too…

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