Social Media for Managers

by Theresa Truscott

Social media for learning

Social media is a powerful tool for learning. Some things to consider when using it effectively are to first ensure that staff are learning the topic and not just the technology. In other words, if the majority of time is spent on learning how to use a wiki (for example) instead of actually using it to solve a problem, time can be wasted. The answer is to schedule training time on the technology separately and prior to the training on a designated topic.

Social learning can and should be structured – for instance, using a formal course environment. The difference lies with social learning’s capacity to support conversation with and learning from others, rather than relying on the traditional focus on content alone.

Most of the popular social media technologies are easy to use for workplace learning in a discuss-this-answer-that format. For optimum results, make sure that your approaches include real opportunities for practice, from collaborating on a shared analysis document, to posting videos (and getting feedback) of performance of a physical skill.

Jane Hart, an expert in social media learning, addresses common concerns some managers have regarding e-learning. She states that many offer an unfair comparison between social media learning and typical ‘time-wasters’, such as Facebook. She emphasises a restructuring of the topic with focus on social and collaborative platforms, social learning environments or networks or communities, terms that are more accepted by senior managers and meet with less resistance.

Another leader in the field, Jane Bozarth, defines the difference between using social media to inform employees and social media for learning. Tools should not just be used to push content (in other words, a blog post that employees simply read and move on from), but to encourage discussion and development among teams.

Some useful learning tools

Some great examples of these tools include GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar, which allow groups to gather online, view a PowerPoint together and discuss or ask questions. Mindmeister is a great tool for online brainstorming among a group. It provides a browser-based service for creating mind maps so that a team can visually step through a project via an intuitive interface. Diagrams can be built, used and shared as a way to explain concepts, for information organisation and for creative problem solving.