Beginning conversations and thoughts on social tech in learning

I’ve been working through conversations and very small experiments in using social computing tech for learning programs. And these conversations are only the very beginning of how to incorporate social computing technology.

These are my own ramblings as I now am trying to pull all of the thoughts and experiences together into something that can be discussed and presented to leaders within my organization.

There are two categories of social computing for learning that we’re thinking about . . . the first one is embedded into the learning event itself; the second one is using it as a community for learners in an ongoing network.

Embedded social tech: A simple analogy I make regarding the first one is when attending a webinar and there is a Twitter backchannel where participants are using a designated hash-tag. Another example is when I had attended a conference in person – the presenter projected the Twitter activity stream for the entire group in the room. She referred to the activity stream – answering questions that got posted, and expanding on the comments made.

The presenter did mention that it took her a while to get used to the fact that people in the room are frequently looking at their laptops or smart phones . . . essentially “having their heads down” . . . and not making constant eye contact with her while she’s presenting. For many a presenter or instructor we’re used to seeing people look at us, as a way to gauge whether or not they’re “with us.” But just because one might see the top of their heads now as they are looking down at some device and typing their 140 characters, it does not mean they’re not following along. It’s just a different dynamic for instructors to get used to.

And I don’t think it really matters the delivery mode – it can be a traditional classroom, virtual classroom, or a collaborative meeting, or even web-based asynchronous training. Social computing tech can be embedded in some way. Now the question is WHY, or better yet, “how does this benefit the learner and the learning?”

Social community after a learning event: One reason for using social media tech was actually given to me in a conversation. For one learning program I’m working on, the subject matter experts insisted that the program is delivered as a traditional classroom ILT. However, one of the reasons they cite for this delivery method is to be able to bring learners together in one location so they can meet each other and begin to build a network together.

What a great opportunity, therefore, to use social computing technology as part of a learner community, which can be introduced during the event and then used after the event . . . learners along with SMEs and instructors can use the tech for a wide variety of things – support, Q&A, sharing lessons learned, best practices, and just keeping up to date on what folks are doing.


So . . . I’ll be thinking more about these two and pulling together more of these ideas.

About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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  1. Pingback: Social layer in learning | Learn-Learn-Learn

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