Is your employee training program missing the mark? Are you struggling to find new tools to keep employees engaged? Have you tried using social media? If not, you may want to give it a shot. “Learning has always been social, and it’s how we learn to do most things we do,” says Jane Bozarth, an author, a speaker, and the e-learning coordinator for the state of North Carolina. “Social tools make it happen on a bigger scale.”
Social media tools can support workplace learning on an ongoing basis—whether it’s general chitchat on Yammer, a post-training blog with reminders of course content, or an online community for new hires to learn from mentors within their departments, Bozarth explains.
Social media, she says, is “a great way to fill in spaces between formal events”—for example, connecting with learners before and after classroom-based training and in between various trainings for new employees.
In addition to increased collaboration among coworkers, social media tools provide learners with access to expertise in learning communities outside of their organization, she says.
Plus, social media helps employees learn in real time. For example, a few years ago, a state agency asked Bozarth for input on providing virtual classroom training to visually impaired learners. She sent out a tweet and, within minutes, had several suggestions. “Without Twitter, it might have taken all afternoon” to find a solution.
Bozarth offers the following advice for using social media tools to support learning. First, trainers should clearly define their objectives in using social media. “You need to be clear on what you’re trying to do and what your goals are.”
Second, trainers should communicate those goals to key stakeholders, including the IT department. That way, IT can let trainers know about any existing tools that can help attain those goals.
Third, train employees on your policies prohibiting the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, and trust that employees will abide by them. If your company insists on vetting every comment that an employee wants to post, Bozarth says, you will lose out on the benefits of using social media to support learning.