Sometimes people read The New Social Learning in the hope it will be written expressly for trainers in corporate training departments. They learn quickly that it was written for leaders in every sort of department determined to help themselves and their people learn more from everything, not only training… from work and the interactions that make up the moments between the work.

If you seek specific resources and ideas for the training department, I encourage you to check out a different book: Social Media for Trainers by Jane Bozarth (Wiley, 2010). To get a taste, the first chapter is available for download on Amazon, and an excerpt is available from Training Magazine.

Jane writes widely on the theme in articles, and blogs, too. Most references can be found on her resource-rich SoMe4Trainer Facebook page. For example, she addressed Personal Learning Networks in Learning Solutions Magazine. (Here’s a full list of all of her Nuts n Bolts posts to Learning Solutions Magazine, some on social media, many more on elearning in general). On twitter @janebozarth she’s action-packed too.

This topic is especially timely right now because it seems a slew of people in the training & development field have begun to profess themselves as experts on this topic. Better than putting their heads in the sand. Some of the things I hear them say, however, lead me to want to smile, then run in the opposite direction. To help you determine if you should run, consider this list of things I’ve heard said in the past few weeks. Each is followed with how I responded, and how I suspect Jane would also respond.

  • “Social learning is the new e-Learning.” eLearning (aka online or electronically-delivered training) can connect people and create a social interaction, but it can also be done in complete isolation, sometimes because that’s appropriate. Social learning can be done online, but it can also be done face to face without the aide of any social media.
  • “Social learning is new.” Huh? Social software has been around for almost 50 years, dating back to the Plato bulletin board system. Networks such as Compuserve, Usenet, discussion boards, and The Well were around before the founder of Facebook was even born. Only technology enthusiasts used those systems, though, because of clunky interfaces that didn’t readily surface or socialize the best ideas.
  • “Social media is social learning.” Social learning doesn’t require social media… and social media can be as easily ignored as learned from.
  • “Social learning is the same as informal learning.” Using social media to assist in the learning process is often informal (not learned in a program or class), but some instances of informal learning are not social—for example, search and reading. And many instances of learning in a social way can be organized in a very formal way.
  • “Social media should replace all training.” Training is well suited for compliance and credentialing. Formal development programs are still needed to prepare employees to progress through the organization. Social media can augment training and development in the classroom or online. It complements training and covers knowledge that formal training can rarely address. Supplement, yes. Replace, not completely.

Now armed with a few counter-arguments that you’ve learned with the assistance of social media (this blog post), consider encouraging anyone who says these silly things to read Jane’s book, too. It’s loaded with techniques for enhancing and extending how everyone can learn.



Social Media for Training