In the first two posts in our Content Revolution series, we discussed how entertainment and information content is becoming digital and chunked. This post will discuss the third component of the content revolution: the social layer.
For some, social media is a procrastination activity. For others, it’s a business strategy. Throughout the applications of social media, there is one broadly applicable rule: People are addicted to connectedness. Internet users want to amplify their consumption of content by sharing their opinions, activities and preferences with the broader community.
There’s a Social Media Revolution. Have You Noticed?
Media companies are attracting consumers by enabling them to acquire information and entertainment content, from books to news stories to songs, from networked content delivery models. For example, Amazon uses customer reviews to give visitors more information and connect them more personally to the content on offer. In addition, newspapers and blogs attract and retain visitors to their sites through conversation about their content in comments, Facebook or Twitter discussion, and social bookmarking sites like Digg or Delicious. Wiki-style sites use a collaborative, networked model to create a human interaction around chunks of information.
Why does the social layer add value to content? Because it adds a natural, human connection to what might otherwise be only dry information or perhaps a sales pitch. Natural, unforced discussion around a chunk of content is another point of entry and endorsement for your site and its content.
Furthermore, people are people. We are social creatures, who enjoy talking, arguing, sharing, considering and discussing. At a basic level, the opportunity to discuss content has a core appeal, while a high quality discussion offers the opportunity to learn from bringing a bunch of people together.
In summary, we argue that this is the 21st century media model:
1. Make your content digital.
2. Make it accessible in on-demand chunks.
3. Make your content easy to share and discuss on your site or on others.
While the above may be obvious, the implications for elearning are not.
The Social Network for eLearning
Social media is an additional layer on top of all forms of digital media, adding value to content through user interaction, authentic reviews and recommendations. Like other forms of content delivery, elearning programs will be more valuable if they connect users to collaboratively evaluate, discuss and ultimately improve content.
There are two central questions for the elearning marketplace. First, how do we connect social learning to our elearning models? Second, how do we create a culture of curiosity?
The answer is to transfer the primary components of a social content delivery model to your learning environment. Start by making it easy for employees to engage in internal and external networks to:
· Connect with peers across platforms and organizational boundaries
· Share both structured content and informal tips and tricks with peers
· Ask questions, discuss problems and propose and evaluate ideas, without fear of criticism. (Note to system administrators: Do not repress critical or honest discussion, no matter how uncomfortable! Criticism is an opportunity to contribute constructively.)
Create an easy process to capture the benefit of the social interactions that are already happening. The ideal management approach to social media is no management at all! Let users (in this example, employees) create the life behind the social network without having stifling rules or expectations imposed on them.
Create a successful social learning network by capitalizing on natural social learning practices. For example, it’s a natural habit in the workplace (and in life) to ask your peers for advice and suggestions. Often, experienced employees enjoy sharing the tips & tricks they have learned on the job. Learners get access to needed solutions, and through collaborative discussion they may discover new approaches.
Other types of social learning are instinctive as well. When you don’t know how to do something with your computer, you probably Google something, right? Accessing resources and information from your peers is a component of a collaborative approach to learning. These are all natural social learning practices.
For great insight into fostering social learning, consult Marcia Conner & Tony Bingham’s The New Social Learning.
OpenSesame in the Social Learning Marketplace
We are working hard to foster the social elearning marketplace by creating informative user profiles that include users’ social media footprints, encouraging lively reviews and discussions, participating in elearning discussion through our blog and by promoting our community members in the broader social marketplace.
We believe that through an open, social and transparent approach to our marketplace, we are doing our part to create a culture of curiosity, discussion and collaborative learning.
Image credit: Cindy Seigle