To sustain business in the current economic situation, companies have to achieve more from less. This is especially relevant to human resource. CEOs and CHROs across industries are forced to achieve high productivity with less staff. This means, employees have to take up a variety of responsibilities, tasks beyond their expertise and deliver expected results. To achieve this, we rely on role induction training; up- skilling training and competency based training programmes.
However, training, whether it is traditional-classroom training or online training, comes with inherent shortfalls. A research report of BI Norwegian Business School titled “New Ways of Teaching and Learning" presents three challenges of learning in 2020- Just-in-time Skills, Connect and Share, and Branded Learning. Let’s discuss how the social media can help in overcoming at least two of these challenges.
Just in Time learning
The first shortfall is in the timing of the training. Research studies clearly establish that adults (read as working professionals) learn the best when they need it. This is called “Just in Time” learning as opposed to the traditional learning which is called “Just in Case” or “inventory” learning where you learn now because it may be useful sometime in the future.
To quote Wikipedia “The just-in-time model can be said to be characterised by three things. First, there is learner control or self-direction, whereby the pupil controls what it is that is learned and in what order. Second, there is learning that is location and time-independent: students in this model access information and tools of learning virtually anywhere and anytime. Finally, learning in this model has a key functional aspect so that the process of learning is characterized by an immediate putting to use of the material.”
Typically professionals learn the best when they are promoted or transferred to a new role, or given additional responsibilities or most commonly when they are asked to make a presentation to internal or external audiences. Professionals do not want to peddle old or outdated knowledge. Hence the desire to learn is the highest at these times.
Connect and share learning
Learning of participants in a class room is restricted to the knowledge disseminated during the session by the trainer and to a limited extent by the participants themselves. But this knowledge is very limited and in many cases generic because of the heterogeneity of the students. ‘Assimilation’ and ‘application’ of knowledge, which are the crucial expectations from the training, often go for a toss. There is a strong need for the faculty to connect with the participants and the participants to connect with each other and more importantly with the experts outside the classroom.
It is here that social media comes for our rescue. Let us see how.
To begin with, social media is not meant to replace traditional or online training. At least for now! The idea is rather to complement these methods to overcome their shortfalls, with little or no investment.
Pre training engagement
Learner needs from training programmes keep changing constantly and from batch to batch. Who can give better insight into training requirements more than participants themselves? Conduct polls and encourage the prospective participants about their expectations from the programme.
Seek feedback from past participants (alumni) of training sessions to improve the course content and delivery method. Encourage past participants to share their experience of the training session and how it helped them. Post videos of past sessions to create excitement. Help prospective participants connect with past participants.
Social media sites like Facebook are excellent tools that can be used to complement training initiatives. Create a Facebook page for each training programme to achieve the above.
Social media can also be used to know the participants better through their own social media presence – their interests, personality can be discerned through their postings in social media like LinkedIn and Facebook. This insight can help to tailor the content that can appeal to the target audience.
Better content development
Research on what can improve the outcome of training initiative revealed that course content should be built around ‘stories’. Stories help participants relate to what is being taught and understand how the knowledge can be applied to solve real world problems.
Social media is an excellent source for such stories. “Blogs are great for learning from others, reflection, story sharing, facilitating connections among people, philosophizing, and much more” says Janice Petosky, Instructional designer, West Chester, Pennsylvania.
A unique feature of social media is that it transforms content consumers into content generators. People talk about their unique experiences and the talk is shared across the social media. It is a platform where people exchange opinions, knowledge and resources generously.
With so much user-generated content like articles, whitepapers, presentations and videos available easily, you can create better training content and even save time and resources on research and development. Also, instead of re-creating what is already available, you can explore how you can use the content with minimal modifications.
Another aspect is content customisations. Since the learners are heterogeneous and come from different background which may be different from that of the trainer, it is a useful way to generate customised content to suit participant profile.
RSS readers like Google reader (www.google.com/reader ) help in tracking and accessing contemporary content from the web. Youtube (www.youtube.com) is a powerful source for video content which is the mainstay of every training programme. It is excellent source of inspirational content that can keep the learners on the edge throughout the sessions.
Post training engagement
Lastly the learning expectations of participants have changed over the years. Participants now are eager to delve deep into the area of their interest. They want to learn when they want, where they want and how they want to.
With Web 2.0 technologies like Skype, webinar and podcast in place, participants can access the training session from anywhere. So, using social media you can deliver training regardless of location of participants. And if any of your participants fail to access the training at the specified time, you can send them a video of the session.
Through social media like Twitter, you can engage participants outside classroom and support their learning beyond the training session. You can connect them to more sources of contemporary information that can further their learning. This also helps the trainer to share the latest research, on an ongoing basis with the past participants. Engaging with students at different points is more likely to improve the training outcome because it increases chances of more application.
Podcasting is another tool to connect with participants. Social media helps the learners to connect with like minded people and experts from across the globe. So through social media, post-training engagement will not be limited to participants of the training session and the trainers. You can build a larger community and invite a variety of people to join it. You can encourage discussions and exchange of learning resources among them. You can schedule events like webinars for them or connect them to relevant blog posts.
Another aspect of the latest technologies is in the area of collaborative work. For example students can create documents through google docs (https://docs.google.com/) and wiki spaces (www.wikispaces.com/ ) and presentations (through www.voicethread) on a collaborative mode.