By Mugdha Narkar
We have already seen in the previous blog that social media technologies are the tools that allow people to interact and collaborate. The most common examples of social media technologies include Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Second Life, etc.
On the other hand, acquisition of knowledge by observing and collaborating with people is social learning. Social learning can be achieved through group training sessions, collaborative team-building activities, group discussions, etc.
Therefore, when acquisition of information and skills happens through social media technologies, allowing people to collaborate, converse, provide input, create and share content, etc., it is termed as social media learning. Social media learning occurs through online discussion forums, blogging, wikis, web-based weekly challenges and activities, etc.
Future Belongs to Millennials
According to Deloitte’s “Millennial Survey 2014”, around 75% of the global workforce will essentially constitute of millennials by 2025! So the future belongs to millennials as they will be defining the trends!
Millennials are those people who were born between the years 1980–2000. Being introduced to the world of internet at a young age, social media have made an early entry in their lives, right from their childhood. Naturally, they are well-versed with most of the social media and also use them in daily lives.
Owing to this familiarity, as an obvious next step, these millennials favor learning through social networks and social media. They prefer learning from their peers through meaningful posts, knowledgeable discussions, peer assessment of their work, and also by building active learning communities of practice. Teachers and instructors are now realizing that they would lose this audience if they don’t move training out of a typical classroom very soon.
But before embracing this trend, let’s analyze the advantages it provides to help us make a conscious decision.
How is Social Media Learning Beneficial?
There are four major benefits offered by social media learning:
- On-demand Learning and Knowledge Management
Be it a “how-to” article about the new product launched yesterday or a blog posted last week or an informational podcast you were looking for – everything is available then and there, as and when you want! Social media thus offers a quick and easy access to the minutest piece of information anytime anywhere.
Traditionally, even if we had internet, we would need to search through numerous individual websites to find the latest information about our area of interest. On the contrary, social media provides easy access to hundreds of sources of relevant information from established news publications, industry subject matter experts, peers and friends – all in one place. Sharing of news, connection with people from your area of interest, direct communication, instant feedback, collaboration to learn something new – social media does it all!
- Real-time experience
Social media can prove to be an incredible learning resource. The main reason for this is that it is constantly growing and evolving since its inception. Everything happens real-time here – real blogs, real ideas, real views, real feedbacks, real queries, and also real answers to most of them! On certain social platforms like Twitter, the posts are updated every second. This means access to the most recent trends, tips and tricks, new articles and blogposts as soon as they are posted!
Being real time, the queries posted on an educational blog or a social media site are bound to get answered quickly. The only factors that govern this may be the number of people online at the time of posting the query and whether they know the answer to your query at that particular time. But, with the global reach of social media these days and the craze of the millennials to be online 24/7, there are good chances that there is always somebody out there who is online and ready to answer when you post a query.
- Multiple mentors/critics
The best part of social media learning is that you can get inputs/guidance from multiple mentors at the same time. This especially true for live forums and blogs on social media platforms, where multiple people with varied expertise express their views. For example, if a query or comment is posted on some blog, it’s not just the author of that blog who replies. There can be numerous other comments from people who either have other similar queries or know the answer to your query. Although it can prove to be confusing at times to have so many views, it mostly proves to be advantageous as you get a comprehensive 360° perspective.
Social Media Learning – The Inevitable Change
Social presence on various social media has become an inseparable part of our professional as well as personal lives. The prime reason for this shift is the realization that the future of most of the organizations worldwide belongs to millennials. And this realization should transform the way knowledge is being imparted to learners before it’s too late!
Learning through social media is certainly more engaging and has more personal touch as compared to traditional forms of teaching, in terms of on-demand learning, real-time interactions between learners and their mentors, and overall, a better knowledge management.
Looks like it’s about time we embrace this trend of social media learning to engage our new learners – the millennials!