What Place Does Social Media Have in eLearning

Love it or loathe it, social media is having a huge impact on our lives.

Research from earlier in the year shows that up to 74% of the UK population use social media, with Facebook being the single biggest social media platform used in both the UK and around the world.  A PEW Research report from Sept 2013, shows that 71% of all online adults use Facebook.

In December 2013, Facebook claimed to have over 31m users in the UK.  Figures from Twitter show 15m UK users and growing.  Whilst data from LinkedIn noted that they passed 10m users in 2013, which whilst lower than the previous two, is much more Focused on professional and business communities.

So how (or perhaps more importantly), are we using social media to improve and grow the learning opportunities, training & development that we offer individuals, or which our organisations offer to employees, students and stakeholders?

Do we use social media as a tool to deliver the same old content, or are we creating new environments where our learners, instead of the teachers/subject-experts, take centre stage?

Social media allows instructors and learners to easily share information and materials, opinions, views and comments, with the platform giving us a structure around which to organise it all.  But it can also help us to give learners more control over the direction of their learning.

Here’s a quick guide to what the main platforms include:

Closed or open groups, allow us to share information & materials (text, pictures, videos, etc.)  and have discussions about course-related issues, and any questions learners might have.  Growth rates may be slowing, and if you are going to use the platform, have a look at your demographics.  Current growth looks to be coming from an older age bracket, with younger users moving to other platforms.  However, the current market coverage makes it tempting to use.

Can be used to connect learning communities or smaller classrooms over a specific topic or event, sharing highlights, making statements, uploading pictures, etc. Create an account, use a #hashtag and your learners can join in.  Caution with Twitter though, the majority of users read, but don’t necessarily interact with other users.

LinkedIn has thousands of discussions and groups where instructors, educators and “influencers” share views, problems, developments and how-to tips.  And there’s an added value compared to the previous platforms as learners can actually see others professional profile and accomplishments, something that can add a bit of kudos to those taking part.

Google +
They’re a bit cagey with their user numbers, but there’s no doubt that Google+ is becoming increasingly popular, and with the established userbase of Gmail, Docs and Youtube, you can be certain they will continue to grow.   Google + is getting some good write-ups from eLearning people, with video integration, Hangouts and communities all being noted as strong components of their social media platform.

The list of platforms seems to grow on a monthly basis, with the likes of Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp all competing for users and content.  So we’ve got loads of choices for a social learning platform, but how are we using them, how should we be using, should we be using them, and what happens if we don’t use them whilst our learners expect us to use them.

Here’s a few more stats to give a flavour for how social media is being adopted:
As of September 2013, PEW Research reported:
71% of online adults use Facebook
17% use Instagram
21% use Pinterest
22% use LinkedIn

Whilst Business Insider found:
“Social” is now the top Internet activity: Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.
Social-mobile rules: 60% or so of social media time is spent on smartphones and tablets.
Facebook attracts roughly seven times the engagement that Twitter does, when looking at both smartphone and PC usage, in per-user terms.
Snapchat is a smaller network than WhatsApp, but outpaces it in terms of time-spend per user.
Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn made major successful pushes last year to increase engagement on their mobile sites and apps. The new race in social media is not for audience per se, but for multi-device engagement.

So with so many options, how are we supposed to know how to proceed with “social” in our learning.  This (along with a range of other topics) is something which the eLearning Alliance is looking at during the Learning Essentials Conference on October 31st.



The Broken Politics of Scotland

Don’t normally take much to do with politics, as I don’t like doing business with people I don’t trust, but looking at the voting patterns from the referendum, it appears that politics in Scotland is well and truly broken.

The heartland of the SNP vote (where they have the majority of their seats from), have voted against that parties wishes – independence. The heartland of labour voters (post industrial west central Scotland), have voted against that parties wishes – remaining as part of the Union.

So what does this say about politics? – answer – politicians don’t actually reflect the views of those who would normally vote for them.

Oh, and by the way, all this bullshit about how engaged the Scottish people were about the campaign, over 15% of registered voters didn’t vote – that’s 665,408 who are registered to vote, didn’t vote, so if we look at the full stats, and not just those that the politicians and media want us to consider, we get:

Registered to vote   4,285,323
Yes   1,617,989   37.76%
No   2,001,926   46.72%
Didnt vote   665,408   15.53%

By my reckoning, no-ones got a mandate to boast about a victory, as no-one can claim to represent over a 50% majority of the voting population – conclusion, politics is all bullshit and bluster. Don’t trust the politicians, start making a difference to your own lives and your own communities.

The Science of Training and Development in Organizations

Training and development activities allow organizations to adapt, compete, excel, innovate, produce, be safe, improve service, and reach goals. Training has successfully been used to reduce errors in such high-risk settings as emergency rooms, aviation, and the military.

However, training is also important in more conventional organizations. These organizations understand that training helps them to remain competitive by continually educating their workforce. They understand that investing in their employees yields greater results. However, training is not as intuitive as it may seem. There is a science of training that shows that there is a right way and a wrong way to design, deliver, and implement a training program.

The research on training clearly shows two things: (a) training works, and (b) the way training is designed, delivered, and implemented matters.

This article aims to explain why training is important and how to use training appropriately and concludes with a discussion of implications for both leaders and policymakers and an exploration of issues that may come up when deciding to implement a training program.

Full paper, or summary from Will Thalheimer

In Pictures

Computer tutorials based on pictures, not words.

Each In Pictures tutorial employs hundreds of screenshots that show exactly what to do.

The screenshots are black-and-white, with color accents. Why? Because this makes it easier to focus on what’s important.

Another good thing about our tutorials is that they’re free! No charges, no payments, just click and start.

Bag of a Fag Packet, or Star Trek – Beginning to look all the same

So let me get this right – we have based the past few decades changing the way we live, with countries investing billions in new tech to reduce carbon emissions due to scientific evidence which states their impact on global warming and the upcoming catastrophe this will bring; except it now appears that perhaps the scientific evidence doesn’t maybe point to this – oh no, that’s right, it’s only a pause.

If you couldn’t predict the pause, then how do you know how long the pause is going to last?

So tell me, why has the landscape of Scotland been decimated by the construction of thousands of War of the World looking wind turbines?

How has our environment been changed by ripping up thousands of acres of forest, and sinking millions of tons of concrete into the ground?

All in the name of scientific evidence, which now looks more like back of a fag packet, than it does Star Trek (oh,that’s right, that’s fairy tale as well).

Up your game scientists, or you’ll get put in the same category as politicians – tell you a story (any story), to get what you want.

The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy

Good one from Seth

“Ask the well-meaning coaches and teachers running the tryouts and choosing who gets to play, ask them who gets on stage and who gets fast tracked, and they’ll explain that life is a meritocracy, and it’s essential to teach kids that they’re about to enter a world where people get picked based on performance.”

“Soccer and football exist in school not because there’s a trophy shortage, not because the school benefits from winning. They exist, I think, to create a learning experience. ”

“If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. ”

“What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn’t that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?”

“We’re not spending nearly enough time asking each other: What is School For?”

“Let’s talk about school and figure out what we’re trying to create.”

Dealing with Digital Natives – Build for Change

Interesting thoughts in the Digital Natives are Restless piece.

Like the Build for Change List:

  • It’s not about technology. They use tech, they like tech, but it is a utility. It’s like air. If tech fails them, they move on. Quickly.
  • It’s about usability. If it’s not intuitive, it’s gone. Next please!
  • It’s about availability. There is no “business” hours. It’s either on, or it’s not working. Make it reliable, make it available.
  • It’s about connectedness. Can’t get connectivity? Kill me now. And I’m not talking about losing an hour or so, I am talking about minutes.
  • It’s about people. While we think that communication is limited to text, Snapchat and such, it’s actually personal. The networks formed are far wider than anything we have ever thought, and just because they don’t call, doesn’t mean they don’t “talk”.

“So let’s create the experience. Let’s create the capability that drives productivity, connectedness, and collaboration. These things are good for all of us, and we should be heeding what our digital natives are demonstrating and expecting.”

8 Myths About MOOCs

From Inside Higher Ed:

Myth #1 – The people involved in open online learning are uncritical promoters of the MOOC phenomenon:
Myth #2 – The people involved in MOOCs think that open online education will replace traditional higher education:
Myth #3 – The MOOC community and the existing online learning community are different (and maybe at odds with one another):
Myth #4 – All MOOCs are the same:
Myth #5 – MOOCs are a fad:
Myth #6 – The MOOC movement and the MOOC platforms are synonymous:
Myth #7 – MOOCs don’t have a revenue model:
Myth #8 – MOOCs are truly open: