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Last updated: 25.11.15

Can social media be a key element of training design?

Chloe Weatherhead, Operations Manager, Virtual College Ltd

Learners are inundated with information and experience more demands than ever on their time.  This has led to a push towards the integration of training into daily lives and the workplace and the need to access learning on demand.  This is described as ‘the Google effect’.

In response to the Google effect and a changing demographic and therefore changing expectation, within the workplace, training designers are increasingly looking to incorporate elements of technology into their delivery.  Often this is used to encourage social learning in the absence of a classroom.

What are the main benefits of social learning?

Conte and Paolucci (2001) define social learning as a process of learning caused or favoured by people being situated in a common environment and observing one another. 

Social learning enables individuals to compare / evaluate their thoughts, opinions and behaviour to others.  Traditionally this was done in a classroom setting through discussion and the invitation to ask questions of colleagues / tutors. 

Many would argue (myself included) that the terms ‘social learning’ and ‘social media’ in this context are interchangeable and that, through incorporating social media into training delivery you give learners the opportunity to compare / evaluate themselves to what many would perceived as a neutral source of information i.e. the rest of the world.  In doing so, social media becomes the medium that encourages learning to occur.

So, how does the use of social media encourage learning? 

  • Learners can actively participate through comparison, discussion and evaluation as opposed to passively absorbing content
  • The content itself is continuously refreshed
  • Collaboration, and therefore the development of team skills, is actively encouraged
  • Social media has mass appeal and therefore its inclusion within training delivery aids engagement and motivation

(Mason and Renniet, 2008)

But what about reaching those older learners?

And finally, before you scream ‘social media is a young person’s game’, a report published by Ofcom found that in 2014 83% of adults went online, 42% of those aged 65+ went online and two thirds of online adults had a current social networking site profile (Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014).

So, if you’d like to find out more about how to incorporate social media into your training delivery why not take a look at the new Virtual College eBook – Incorporating Technology into Training Design & Delivery? Download our PDF below. 

Download free e-book and find out more