Saturday, 15 November 2008

Make Learning Stick: Part 4 - Social networking tools

This is my fourth post in my Making Learning Stick series.

Making Learning Stick is all about getting the most from your learning investment - something that is currently more important than ever for everyone involved in L&D.

In this post I want to focus on how social networking tools can be used to Making Learning Stick in an organisation.

An important aspect of helping people to learn and then embedding that learning into their 'day job' is providing them with ongoing support following a learning intervention. In a previous post I discussed how the role of the line manager can play an important part in this. However as a L&D professional you should consider social networking tools as part of your blended approach to learning.

If you are not familiar with what social networking tools are available then check out this great presentation from Jane Hart. It gives a really good overview of the Top 100 Tools For Learning so it is important to first know what is out there. So how can they be used to Making Learning Stick?

I believe a key way that they can be used is as both before and after any learning intervention:

Before the learning intervention:

Wouldn't it be good if you could start to engage with delegates before they actually attended the course?Perhaps start to embed some key messages with them, interact with them, start to gauge what is on their mind....? Social networking is a great way to do this and here are 2 examples:

  • Use Twitter to drip feed messages about 'what is coming' and encourage people to tweet back and also with each other. People can tweet via SMS through their mobile phone so it is very easy to both access and use. See this article for more information about how Twitter can be used.
  • Set up a blog that provides both more information about the course they will be attending including some links to other interesting items. Also encourage people to start sharing their experiences and to communicate with each other. You need to provide some sort of carrot to attract them - be creative.
Following the learning intervention

Once people have been on a course then the learning process has only started. It is the period following the course when people need the most support to help embed the learning into their roles. Again social networking tools can play a role in this:
  • Creating a community of like minded people can be a very powerful support network for people. The use of blogs and also tools such as facebook can be a great way to do this. Make sure that you let people know about this during the course (let them try it out) and keep the tool updated with interesting stuff.
  • Consider using tools such as a Wiki to provide supporting information for people. You could initially populate it with relevant information and then let people edit and update themselves. For a great example of how a Wiki was implemented then watch this video that Jay Cross shot about how Intel use it (Intelpedia). Another tool that is great for aggregating information is Delicious.  You can tag web based articles, stories or news items that are relevant to your audience and then share them very easily to create a wealth of supporting information. 
As an L&D professional you should be familiar with these tools. If you aren't then I recommend getting to know them - try them out and play with them. They can be a great way to Making Learning Stick in your organisation.......and they are free!

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