Why we can’t ignore social media

I wanted to share this great Slideshare presentation by Espresso. If you haven’t been convinced yet by the many voices on Twitter describing how social media can be a tool for education, training, and action (e.g., public health, health literacy, and a general health care revolution), some of the points made here may be worth noting.

Some thoughts

Social media’s a reflection of now  nearly ubiquitous  technology, but more than that, it’s technology that’s natural to us. We’ve evolved telling stories, forming social networks, and sharing ideas. I’m saying this to make the point that this isn’t just a “shiny new tool” that people are adopting without thinking about its real value in instruction. Social media platforms just represent technology that enhances what we’re born to do. Not to take advantage of it in education and training, frankly, just doesn’t make sense.

At the same time, this doesn’t minimize what an enhancement social media platforms represent. Consider the impacts on education and training:

  • Our personal learning networks are generally accessible 24/7. These networks can include diverse, globally distributed professionals we’d never have a chance to interact with otherwise.
  • Educational content is mobile, context-specific, and augmented, not just by AR applications, but by the footprints of those who have gone before us. Likewise, we leave our own traces for our fellow voyagers.

If I seem to be evangelizing social media as a way to create perfect social networks, be assured I’m still a cynic. I think it’s important to remember that the same flawed social dynamics that exist in the physical world certainly carry over to the virtual one. Access to social media and the formation of social networks won’t create teams that function well together or foster an individual’s ability to be a divergent or even a critical thinker. But that’s where instructional designers and trainers come in:

  • as facilitators
  • as community leaders
  • as designers who can integrate social media platforms into the most natural flow possible to optimize learning

There’s a lot of innovation and complexity remaining to be explored as we try to achieve learner-centered and community- or organization-centered  goals. But that’s what makes it interesting.


4 responses to “Why we can’t ignore social media

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why we can’t ignore social media | Instructional Design Fusions -- Topsy.com

  2. I’m new to social media in education and found youir article very interesting, what you say makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

  3. Hello! I am taking beginning classes in Instructional Design and have found your blog interesting and informative. Social media uses in education, workplace, and for entertainment, offer almost a never ending array of applications available to the users. It’s impossible to ignore social media because it is integrated into almost everything we do here in America.
    I think that the uses of social media are so extensive that they cannot be overlooked. Should everyone be using social media tools? I don’ t think so. I think that the overuse of such tools lessens ones interactions in tangible ways. It distances people who may otherwise have had to meet face to face or at least voice to voice for communication. On the other hand, of course, it brings some closer together- though the closeness may be through internet applications, some still see this as being closer. Overall, social media applications are here to stay and will not be ignored.

  4. Hi Turner,
    You make some very good points. Social media platforms aren’t a substitute for face-to-face interactions and, especially in the workplace, it’s important to understand when face-to-face conversations are actually better. Also, not all social media tools are created equal, so the types of interactions you can have may be richer with some tools and less satisfying with others. It’s both interesting and challenging to consider the best platform(s) for the needs of a particular audience of learners.

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