Friday, November 06, 2009

The Value of Social Media for Learning

The Learning Circuits Board asks the question: How do you communicate the value of social media as a learning tool in an organization? Some random musings on an idle Friday afternoon, more to stir the pot than to answer the question.

I don’t think we have reached the stage where we can communicate the value. We haven’t even seen the value yet, haven’t even generated the value yet. Heck, we don’t even know if it really has value.

Come to think of it, are we, the learning design fraternity, really the people to talk about it? Are we experts in the medium or in the message? Are we instructional experts selling instructional forms or technical experts selling technology applications? Is it a bit like CNN and NDTV selling television sets, set-top boxes and band-width, as opposed to focusing on programming content?

Quite often, web 2.0 (the super-set for SoMe) is referred to as “small pieces, loosely joined.” So should SoMe be sold surreptitiously, in small packets? Organically ingrained in the learning solution and gradually increasing its presence? Much like how color advertising found its way into the daily newspaper in India, first in the supplements, then on the front and back pages, and then throughout?

By its very nature, SoMe is characterized by waste and excess. (I just discovered about 75 sites that offer polling and survey applications after barely a 30-min search.) So the purists won’t be unfair in viewing it with a fair degree of skepticism. Evidence is the only thing that will convince them to even get started. Start a couple of small engagements, with people who believe; slowly, as the engagement assumes some shape, include the odd skeptic; and gradually expose the project to the larger majority of naysayers.

Don’t over-love SoMe. May be some or most of it is useless after all. Give it time, give it a fair run, but prepare to bury it if it does not gain currency. If it’s a good thing, it will survive. Look at the human race.


jjl207 said...

Interesting Post. I personally think that as Instructional Designers, we are uniquely qualified to judge whether the media is acceptable for the message. When a composer writes music, that composer is best equipped to decide what instrument to write the piece for. Similarly, the designer of the content, with the requisite background in technology, is the best person to decide whether social networking tools are sufficient for their content.

Donna said...

Wonderful insights!
I couldn't agree more,we are far from knowing the value of social media and if it really have a value.

Paula said...

From my point of view social media nowadays, holds a to high place in people's life. I don't thing that we can actually talk about education in here.