7 Tips for Using Social Media in Classroom Learning

By: Catherine Davis

Instructional designers: Do you have a “friend” in Facebook? Integrating social media into performance improvement is a hot topic, but how do you make sure your techniques get plenty of “likes” from learners? ASTD’s T+D magazine featured an article by Dan Steer, Improve Formal Learning with Social Media (note: you must be a member to view), that offered guidance for adding this element to classroom-training events. Here are some relevant highlights from the article based on my work with SweetRush’s clients.

Ensure social media is worth using for your training event.

1. Take a look at your learning objectives. Can they be supported by sharing, co-creation, or networking? Social media tools are just that — social. They facilitate interaction among learners.

2. What can be done outside of the classroom and what content must have a facilitator’s guidance? It’s all about focus: Should learners be focused on the facilitator, or a collaborative exercise? Designing specific activities for social media that don’t conflict with attention to the facilitator eliminates the distraction factor, especially with tools in which learners might have personal accounts.

3. Keep in mind that less is often more. One or two well-placed, meaningful activities will go a long way.

4. Is social media even right for the audience? Start with your audience analysis: Are learners comfortable with social media in general, and, if so, what tools are they using? Leverage platforms in which there is already familiarity among your audience. Perhaps your company or organization has a tool in place — reinforcing its use in your training event could be a win-win!

Use social media before, during and after training.

5. Create a community space for your training event. Pre-class activities, such as reading, questionnaires, and expectation-setting, can be accomplished effectively via social media. Wouldn’t it be cool for you (or your facilitator) and your learners to post introductions in the community space, so you can learn more about each other in advance? You can also ask about what they’re hoping to learn, and perhaps tailor your content a bit to meet their needs.

6. During your event, you can offer social-media based projects; for example, co-creating Prezi presentations. Or, provide a Twitter hashtag for learners to tweet comments throughout the training. Go outside the classroom by having students leverage their network and invite guest speakers via Skype.

7. Post-training exercises keep the synergy of your training event alive. Continue to use the community space for learners to discuss their experiences. Participants can share more in-depth articles and links to other resources for ongoing learning and networking. Provide tweetable references to your event, publish your presentation, and even include your flipcharts as photos!

Some learning professionals worry that low-quality content posted on a community space will reflect negatively on their entire training event, and that a community space will need constant monitoring. These are valid concerns. That said, what we’ve found is that the majority of learning groups will take the space seriously, setting the tone and delivering solid input. Credible resources are “liked” by the group and get more attention. And if something really is of low-quality, you can always step in with corrective action.

Steer’s article focused on some fantastic ideas for weaving social media into a live training event. Many of these ideas, and other social elements, can be used in your e-learning training programs, too! Reach out to the SweetRush team to strategize using social media within your training solution.

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