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Social Media and its Relevance to the Adult Learning Principles – Part 2

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Social Media and its Relevance to the Adult Learning Principles – Part 2

In my earlier blog, I expressed the need to incorporate social media elements into eLearning courses so that they appeal to a ‘social media user’. Social media in some ways is already conforming to the principles of adult learning – although quite unintentionally. Here is why I say so.

Adult learning principles How social media ‘fits in’
Adults need to know why they should learn something. Adults know when they need to learn and they have Google, and LinkedIn groups to go to when they see the need.
They love to be self-directing. They have the option to choose which search engine to use, which blogs to subscribe to, which groups to join and which websites to bookmark so that they can have information when needed.
They are much more experienced and therefore can greatly enhance learning through collaborative experience. They engage in discussions in professional networking sites such as those found in LinkedIn. There are other specialty forums and groups catering to experts, specialists where like-minded people meet and exchange notes.
Adults become ready to learn in order to perform more effectively and satisfyingly. When faced with a work-related problem, there is a tendency to seek opinion and learn from the experiences of others. This is motivated by the fact that they would like to overcome the problem by finding suitable solution. This in turn fills them with satisfaction. The fact that there is so much dynamic exchange of ideas and thoughts in some of the LinkedIn groups is a demonstration of this fact.
Get enthused when their problem-solving abilities are put to use. Recently, many people and not just teens or younger population had their profile photo changed to a giraffe – because they didn’t answer a tricky question on Facebook correctly. Why did these people attempt the riddle in the first place? It was because their problem-solving abilities were put to test and as the adult learning principle tells us adults love to enter into a learning experience with a problem-centered orientation to learning.
Need intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Don’t you see people checking on how many followers they have on Twitter, or how many likes they have on FB, how many people are on their circles in Google+ or how many people are connected to them in LinkedIn? These are nothing but the extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors for adults.

Now that I have established that there is a definite link between the way we can learn from adult behavior in social media and adult learning principles, I would like to explore how these can be aligned to some of the options provided by collaborative technology and incorporated into eLearning programs.

Adult learning principles E-learning programs
You employees need to know why they should register for a course. Before soliciting participation, provide adequate information about the benefits that employees can get from the knowledge gained through the course. Provide space for comments or queries in the course registration form to allow employees voice out their concerns, questions about the course.A moderator/manager and peers can respond to the queries and start a healthy discussion about the course that can continue through the duration of the course.
Employees are partners in the progress of the organization. They need to be given freedom to plan out their learning in the way that works out best for them. You can check your FB/LinkedIn from your desktop, laptop or mobile devices. Similarly. provide flexible options to your employees to complete a course. Allow employees to complete the course module by module instead of all at one go. Provide multiple formats for delivering content and allow them to access it from anywhere.
Your employees have abundant ground knowledge that can be nurtured to create user-generated content. Create wikis, forums, groups where employees can share their experiences and help their peers who encounter a tricky situation or problem at work. Learning cannot be uni-directional (from instructor to learner); it should be multi-directional (instructor – learner; learner-instructor; learner – learner).
Employees need to know how a particular course is going to help them in their – efficient way of doing things, reduced effort, better work-life balance, etc. People get convinced about something when it is endorsed by their peers. Allow employees to share their views about a course and how it has helped them on the intranet/LMS – in the course registration form.Include clear learning objectives in the course that demonstrate the learning outcomes that make job/work satisfying and efficient. Example: By using this method, you can complete a particular task in 1/4th of the time.
Employees almost approach a learning opportunity with a problem-centered orientation. How will this course address the issues/problems encountered at work? Engage employees with riddles, teasers and simple puzzles to tickle their grey cells.Courses need to be tailored to address specific issues or problems faced by employees. Instead of just giving a theoretical understanding, its applicability in real-life context is essential. Even for mandatory courses such as compliance or safety training, a problem-centered approach will be more effective in garnering the attention and acceptance of employees.
Appeal to employees’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Provide a clear incentive for employees to take time off to complete a course. Give certificates or recognition such that employees find a reason to invest their time and effort in the course.

We can’t ignore the popularity and tremendous influence that social media has on individuals, including your employees. If we would like to create an impactful learning experience for our employees, we could learn a few points from social media and incorporate them into our training programs.

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