Sunday, May 29, 2011

Social media course

I've been well and truly bitten by the social media bug - why else would I sign up for a course on social media (C4LPT, 2011) when I'm already doing a Masters course?  The idea of working and learning smarter seems simply irresistible as I start to really understand the efull potential of online learning, so on I go and hope that there are enough hours in my day to cover it!  Oh, and let's not get started on the other stuff I've seen courtesy of the online moderator...

Centre for Learning Performance Technologies, 2011.  30 Ways to use Social Media to Work & Learn Smarter [online].  Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2011]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Finally some progress!

I'm getting the first real signs of department wide paricipation for my forum as we move on to discussing a topic that lends itself easily to collaboration, since the two halves of the department have a shared interest in its success.  Previously it's taken some colleagues a while to get into the spirit of things, but now one of the people directly involved in the project has taken the initiative in calling for ideas.

We've also had some staff update sessions and I took the opportunity to work social media into the mix.  Our company has been getting into using social media more of late, and I'm amongst a small group of people who are keen to see it used more.  I saw some doubts initially because colleagues are rightly worried about the potential embarassments that could come with it, but then I pointed out that we've taken flak on social networking sites anyway, so what's the difference?  I was pleased to see that people were agreeing, and I've hopefully got some genuine attention.

This week has also been interesting for me because I found myself credited for a comment I put on Twitter - somebody had spotted a tweet that I made and put the article onto their website, with my tag next to it.  Shows that people are listening...

Monday, May 16, 2011

More ideas on using social media for learning

I've just come across a whitepaper on increasing the use of social media within an intranet (Ward, 2010).  One of my colleagues is working on introducing a new intranet within my workplace, so I though it would be a good idea to have a look at what Ward believes are essential ingredients for success.  I'm definitely in agreement with the idea that a social intranet must include access to social media tools direct from the main intranet portal - these are certainly present on the intranet I use, so does it qualify as a social intranet?  Unfortunately the 'wide participation' hasn't started yet.  We have some executive blogs, and there are some comments on them, but the wider body of employees haven't engaged yet, so what is missing?  We've got the tools that people are supposedly coming to demand, but they haven't, well, come...

The problem doesn't seem to be unique to my workplace.  There is a lack of engagement with intranet tools across a wide variety of companies.  Ward identifies the same missing factor that I have been working to remedy - it simply isn't part of the culture, and that needs to be changed.  Since I'm not in a management position, and am approaching from an educational perspective, I'm planning to lead and promote conversations.  I believe there are sufficient tools in place to get those conversation going properly, and I'm having success with the group that I work with, so now I need to persuade other departments that my approach has merit, and build up the groundswell that can lead to company-wide support to realise the potential of a social intranet.

The case study shows that an effective social intranet doesn't neceessarily have to employ expensive social media tools to increase employee engagment and yield positive results, such as a saving of 400,000 Euros from ideas contributed by employees.  The flip side of this is that a company that doesn't implement an effective social intranet policy 'risks being left behind or outright failure', according to Prescient's survey.  Again, the problem doesn't seem to be lack of availability, since the tools are so cheap.  It is employee disatisfaction with the tools - or as I word re-word it: it's employee perception of the tools, because they don't get a sense of satisfaction from using them.  That perception is something that I want to change.

Ward, T., 2010.  The Social Intranet: Key factors for Intranet 2.0 success; Social Intranet Success Matrix.  Prescient Digital Media Whitepaper [online].  Available at: <> [Accessed 16 May 2011]

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Forum is on the move

I've finally got just about everyone on board for my cross-department forum.  We've already got some people sharing photographs and chatting on the forum, so it should help the team to overcome some of the boundaries between the two departments we're merging.

For the next couple of weeks I'll be getting the socialisation aspect moving properly, using a creative story activity (Bennett, Marsh & Killen, 2007) to let people use their imaginations, explore spontaneity in their postings, and learn to accept a few errors as part of the process.  I'm hoping that this will build people's confidence in preparation for a constructive exchange of ideas in the next phase.  Establishing a successful process and matching the activities to the staff involved will help to ensure that future initiatives involving social media run more smoothly, regardless of the platform that is to be used.
Bennett, S., Marsh, D. and Killen, C., 2007.  Handbook of Online Education.  London: Continuum.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

This isn't as new as I thought it was...

Barely have I started writing about the use of social media for learning, when along comes a blog entry (Kelly, 2011) to highlight the point that social media and social learning aren't new and may be a little over-hyped right now.   What is important is the fact that the medium can now keep up with people, and even enhance our learning. So thanks to somebody I've never met for helping me put things in perspective and contributing to my learning (I stumbled across the link on Twitter).   This doesn't take away from my desire to understand social media for learning, rather it refocusses my attention on the key benefits that I'm aiming to get out of the medium.   First and foremost is to break the reliance on formal, structured events as the only recognised form of learning, and get some recognition for all the informal learning events that we know are taking place every day in the workplace. Second, I am hoping to increase learner engagement, and break the mindset that learning is something that is done to you, and instead promote people's ability to learn actively, both as individuals and socially.
More to come, eventually this will all distill into some kind of announcement that should get people's attention...

Kelly, D., 2011.  What's 'New' About Social Media and Social Learning?  Misadventures in Learning [blog] 3 May.  Available at: <> [Accessed 3 May 2011]

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Learner-learner interaction

I'm starting this blog with the aim of building up ideas for best practice of using social media more in the workplace.  Forming my ideas by using a form of social media seems particularly appropriate, since I want to foster a spirit of open communication and feedback - potentially from anywhere!  My starting point for using social media more will be using the forum at work, with the goal of making it break (i.e. become unmanageable) under the sheer volume of posts, using my undestanding of Salmon's (2003) five stage model of scaffolding interactions among learners.

While I doubt that I'll get people to to the illustrious stage five (development) any time soon, I think that significant strides in interaction could be made by simply engaging people enough to motivate them to actually access the forum and post on it (which most don't as of yet), and building them up to the stage of exchanging ideas and information with each other.  Asynchronous learner-learner interaction was found to be the single most important interaction for online learning (Soo & Bonk, 1998), so I think this is a logical first step in promoting social learning in my organisation.

Salmon, G., 2003.  E-Moderating: the key to teaching and learning online.  2nd ed. London: Routledge-Falmer.
Soo, K-s; Bonk, C., 1998.  Interaction: What does it mean in online distance education?  In Conference proceedings Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia & World Conference on Educational Telecommunications. Frieburg Germany.  Available at: <> [Accessed 01 May 2011]