Jane Bozarth recently published a new book called Social Media for Trainers. I would put it on the list of "essential reads" for anyone in the workplace learning field. Social media and Web 2.0 tools are too important into today's world for the learning community to ignore. Most true learning takes place informally and through peer-to-peer connections. Social media provides a platform to make that happen more easily. If you are really interested in helping people be successful at work or move forward with their development needs, you cannot ignore the power of these tools and their potential for learning.
The book covers how to use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis - and a few others - for learning purposes. Each of the key tools is given its own chapter. Each chapter begins with a description of the tool in a nutshell, a deeper look into the tool, advantages and disadvantages of selecting one tool over another, how and why you might use some of the tools together, and why you might choose one tool over another. Then the chapters provide a barrage of ideas and practical ways the tool being covered can be used for learning purposes. There are suggestions on how to use the tools as primary vehicles for learning and how to use them to supplement or extend programs or courses (that are delivered in the classroom or through other media) by using the social media tools for pre-work, intercession work and post work.
If you are not a social media user already, the book will help you get started. If you are a familiar with social media tools, but haven't used them for learning, you will be amazed at how many learning activities are possible. Of course, not all of them will be right for every learning situation or workplace culture, but there is enough here to choose from so everyone can come away with at least one or two practical ideas.
Here are a few quick hits I picked up about some of the tools:
Twitter - Learners can use Twitter to talk to an expert. You can follow anyone with a Twitter account and if you reach out to an author or expert about their work, many are happy to respond.
Facebook - For me the biggest surprise in the book is how versatile Facebook is. I generally have only used Facebook for personal connections and favor other social media tools for work purposes, but Facebook has so many capabilities that it can be used to for everything from communication to course management.
Blogs - These can be great tools for learning reflection. But you must keep in mind, blogs are heavily dependent on writing skills. If that doesn't match your audience profile, blogs may not be the way to go.
Wikis - Unlike the other tools which are primarily set up for comment and response interactions, wikis allow true collaboration. Learners can jointly create pages such as shared class notes for FAQs.
There is so much more in the book. Get it. Read it. Use it.