Learning at the Speed of Social Media

New Brandon Hall Group Survey Explores Social Learning Practices


Where do you get your news?  Do you still like to open and read through a newspaper? Maybe you’re a cable news person. Despite the vast array of traditional news sources available – print, TV, Internet news sites – the truth is that social media has a way of breaking news before any of these channels. In fact, many cable news channels have seemed to abdicate their reporting to the Tweets and Facebook posts of their viewers. It’s easy to deride this trend as frivolous, but there is something larger at work here.

A good example is the relatively well-publicized Florida trial of Michael Dunn. When the highly anticipated verdict came out on a Saturday evening, I began flipping through the news channels to get details. Every network was reporting the verdict was in, but not specifically what it was for each of the five charges against Dunn. Finally, I jumped on Twitter and had my answer.

I know the news networks had the information, but because of protocols and procedures, they could not broadcast everything they knew. Twitter, Facebook and other social media services are unfettered by such constraints, and users are free to disseminate whatever they want. Yet, instead of a Wild West free-for-all of misinformation, I got true, real answers to my questions.

This is almost exactly what is happening within the corporate learning environment. Traditional learning models (and yes, I think e-learning has finally earned the “traditional” badge) finds itself constrained by rules and protocols that prevent it from being as agile as it might be. Meanwhile, information is flying fast and furious within social learning environments.  Contrary to many initial fears, that information is not simply frivolous or false.  Real, useful knowledge is being transferred in ways not previously possible.

The fact of the matter is, a lot of your learners are getting their information this way no matter what your institutional policies may be. It has become necessary to embrace the role social technology plays in knowledge sharing and use it to its fullest potential. Brandon Hall Group has launched a new study to identify best and next practices in social and collaborative learning, and I encourage you to take part in our survey as part of our research in this area.

Traditional learning modalities are not going to be replaced by social media. Social learning and other modalities work to create a knowledge ecosystem. But social and collaborative learning is a force to be reckoned with, just as is the socialization of the news. Through the research we hope you participate in, we will create better understanding and enable better practices.

David Wentworth. Senior Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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