Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Various ways to use social media as a facilitator or trainer

This is a blogpost written for a half-day workshop for facilitators with Sibrenne Wagenaar.
We thought of starting with a blogpost because it helps us think about the topic of the workshop, it is a light way of starting online, and it gives the chance for others to look over our shoulders (and give tips?).

More and more often we meet trainers and facilitators who are working mainly face-to-face and would like to use the opportunity of social media to facilitate more online because it may enhance the quality of your trajectory. There are many different ways in which you can do so. A great model has been developed by Jane Hart: how to use social media in e-learningtrajectories:

We believe you may also use this model to think about how to use social media in face-to-face learning trajectories.

(1) Wrap-around model: socials aspects are added as extra element to organise trainer- en peer support. An example is using Yammer or Twitter so that participants can have contacts in between face-to-face events, but the core is in the face-to-face.

(2) Integrated model: social aspecten are integrated with the content of the training. Social media form an integral part of the learning trajectory. For instance, when you have an online community platform (e.g. Ning or LinkedIn group) to start exchanging online related to the topics of the trajectory.

(3) Collaboration model: sociaal learning and collaboration are at the basis of the design of the trajectory. The content and topics are co-created in collaboration with the participants. You may be using a combination of social media that are complementary: Yammer for support and contact, Scrumble for brainstorming, a wiki to collect information and documents, a unique hashtag in delicious to build a joint library. It is becoming more of a learning network or learning community.

As you can see: from the wrap-around model to collaboration social media is playing an increasingly central role. Jane Hart warns us that you should use the first model with caution. You need a good reason to use social learning as an add-on, otherwise it is very difficult to make a 'wrap-around' model workable. The strength of the second model is a seamless integration of online and f2f learning. So we advocate to analyse and use the power of both modalities in the design of a learning process. Such that f2f and online learning are mutually reinforcing. Find the right connection between online and face-to-face learning interventions to use the power of various media. In the third model, social media is the basis for learning and participation from a social-constructivist vision.

Important to remember is that the use of social media matches a different perspective on learning as compared to some types of training and 'elearning1.0', focusing on co-creation, self-directed learning by participants and the importance of interaction and conversation between participants. Social media encourage networking, sharing ideas and experiences, collaborate and hence connect so well with this vision. This also means that your role as facilitator is different in the collaboration model from the wrap-around and integrated model. In the third model, you're more of a 'tutor as an equal member of the group learning', your role is to help and create a 'powerful learning environment'. This does not mean that social media can not be used in trainings designed from a different perspective on learning, just that you may have to be aware of this.
Jane Hart's model may help to think about the role of social media in your own training or learning trajectory and making choices therein as facilitator. How central will social media be?

Another model that closely resembles the one of Jane Hart is by Dave Wilkins.
He distinguishes the embedded model, wrapped model and community model. His blog post is worth a read. conversations?

We look around and see a wide variety of learning interventions in which social media can play an important role. We would like to make a distinction between small and large-scale operations and a between one-off learning interventions or prolonged interventions. In a short workshop you will make other considerations when choosing social media usage than a long term project or network, where you can invest in learning to work with a wiki. You may not want to invest in that for a half-day session.

This brings us to the following overview of a number of possible interventions that can facilitate learning using social media. On the horizontal axis on the far left learning activities designed for a small group of participants (eg a training with 12 people), and the right scale actions (think of a conference with 80 people). Vertically, we distinguish between one-time participation (a 1-day workshop, seminar or conference) and longer-term learning, such as a one year learning trajectory or a learning network.

The type of learning interventions will affect how you will make use of social media. Though you can still be very creative and there is no clear guide for doing A, B, C and using tool A, B, C. Some examples:

  • Getting-to-know eachother online: You facilitate a training on brainlearning and want to engage all participants in advance in the subject. You may do so through an online survey, a blog post with the question to participants to share their questions and expectations or invite participants to tweet about their experiences related to brain learning, using a unique hash tag for this group.
  • Conference2.0: You are involved in a major conference on leadership and want to use social media during the conference as a kind of "back channel". Through Twitterhashtag you stimulate people to share insights and questions and a twitterfountain is on screen during the day; visible to everyone. You'll also make a number of flipvideos (short interviews) during the day that you'll make available online.
  • Online follow-up: You believe strongly in the principle of repetition for something new to take root. You will send participant after the training a regular text message containing a question or reminder. Or invite them to stay in touch through Twitter.
  • Webconferences: You work in a multinational company and you want to organize something on the subject of projectmanagement. There is no budget to organise an major international gathering on this issue. Instead you decide to organise a two-days web-conference. You start and end with an open chat session and organizes various workshops during the two days of 1-1.5 hours with guest speakers from inside and outside the organization.
  • Hybrid learning trajectory: You work for a long time with a group of project managers and have an online learning platform (Ning, Moodle, Elgg) designed to promote learning in between the face-to-face sessions. Experts can play a substantive role, participants will work online and give each other feedback on products, there are threads running on the application of new information into their own work practice. The online exchange is as important as the face-to-face exchanges.
  • E-coaching: You have worked for some time with a group of trainees f2f and the meetings are over. Each trainee returns to his duty station and you guide them through e-coaching in applying the lessons learned in practice. For this purpose you use Skype, email and
  • Online Learning Network: You want to help people blog. To this end you have an online textbook written with 31 which participants can work. In parallel you have set up a community where users can meet, write feedback on eachother's blog posts and get tips from you as a coach. You facilitate the network to grow and innovate.
  • Blog fair: You want to stimulate thinking about using social media by encouraging non-profit organizations to document and reflect while most of the contacts already have a blog. You invite them every month to write a blogpost about an inspirational question and make the results available via Twitter and your blog.
  • Online community: All over the world policy makers, researchers and practitioners are working on a new approach to forest regeneration. You use Twitter and Ning to foster an online community to exchange in order to stimulate innovation, but also send someone to a conference and ask him to blogging about it. You make the blog accessible within the online community.


judith Dex said...

I found this quite inquisitive. I subscribe to your blog and looking forward to read more. Bookmarked.

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Ramkumar Yaragarla said...

Thank you. It is was nice to read through.
I was particularly impressed with the chart with the 4 quadrants. Small scale vs large scale. Short term vs long term use. It was surprising to see twitter chats on the short term and large scale usage.

I would think, twitter tweets more on the long term usage as well. There are long lasting changes created by the tweets, the spread and the retweets.

This is just my opinion. Good elaboration on the rest of the subject.

Joitske said...

thanks for your feedback Ramkumar! I have put twitter chats on the short term because the life span of tweets is very short (as measured) this means if a tweet is not read in the next 4 hours, it will probably never be read...