Social networking sites have the inherent feature that makes interaction, communication and collaboration easy. They are being significantly featured in discussions, centered around the use of technology to support learning. With the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on, they have added a new dimension to formal learning. They enable learners and instructors to connect with one another in an online environment. These platforms encourage individuals to engage in ongoing meaningful dialogues sharing experiences with others.
Social networking sites have revolutionized the way employees learn and exchange information at the workplace. These sites can provide a wide range of applications and opportunities to create their own forums and groups which can be valuable to employees in an organization. Jane Hart mentions in her blog Learning in the Social Workplace that there are two ways by which organizations are considering the implementation of social media within a formal learning context. They are top down and bottom up approaches.
Top down approach: With a top down approach, organizations are focusing on how to get more and more people involved in discussions with the use of social media and share their knowledge and experiences. This approach is used when an organization wants to consciously facilitate social learning and collaboration among its employees.
Bottom up approach: This approach is useful for encouraging and supporting those individuals who want to be connected with others, and are eager to learn and work together as a team. This system works well when the individual and the team have a specific goal or purpose that steers a particular discussion.
However, social media can also be effectively used after workshop sessions. Trainers can leverage micro blogging sites or social media sites so that it would be easier for them to receive immediate feedback on their training or workshop sessions. It also helps them to maintain relationship with learners and attendees. It also helps to support the creation of knowledge repositories that can be used by individuals in their jobs or for clarifying client queries.
Social media can be mostly useful for the organizations when:
- Employee are geographically isolated
- On-the-job development is needed
- Cross functional group effort is needed
- Knowledge needs to be shared quickly
Some companies such as Martell Home Builders, Zappos, Giantnerd, Ford Motor and so on are implementing social learning through social media to encourage peer-to-peer and collaborative learning as a supplement to formal learning.