Enhance Training and Other Formal Learning with Social Media

During my own ASTD Techknowledge session this year, I discussed various ways in which trainers and formal-learning facilitators can enhance their initiatives with social media. The possibilities are endless and this post outlines tools that I find very useful, in addition to some best practices and other guidance. My PPT from the session can be found here on SlideShare


Why enhance your training (or other formal learning) with social media?

Using SoMe in training should not be done because it can, or because its fashionable, although some of my clients ask to enhance their training for that very reason. Another interesting by-product for the trainer or organisation is the impact on Google SERP results – use of well-tagged social media applications can be good for marketing.

Social media should be used in formal learning for the following reasons:

  • To create more longevity of learning
  • To enhance the reach of learning, by pushing content out (to others) and pulling content in (via participant networks)
  • To motivate participants
  • To find more knowledge, share attitude and best practices
  • To encourage and profit from more sociability
  • When learning objectives suggest the need for a social intervention (eg: identify “best” practices)


Social media learning activities can bring value before, during and after classical formal organised “learning moment”

For the purpose of this post, I will mention now things to do with social media to enhance a classical training, although all examples could be applied to a non-training based initiative. For an example including no formal training session, read this post. The following uses of SoMe are designed to increase the minimum effective dose of learning activities. Despite my classing them “before”, “during”, “after” you can interchange as you see fit…


Before training

Share expectations, agenda and content and introduce yourself

  • I like to do this via video, using an iPhone to film and my YouTube channel for storage and sharing
  • Example introduction video here
  • If necessary make your introduction video unlisted, so only people receiving the link can view it
  • Share ideas on how you will work, the added-value of training and expectations/pre-work
  • Participants tell me they like these videos simply because they see my face before they arrive
  • For an awesome and different example, contact Rick Lozano or follow his ASTD ICE 2014 session in DC this May


Help participants to get to know each other

  • I like to use LinkedIn for this, as many of the people I meet in training already have active accounts
  • You can close your group if you want to, so only the people you want are present
  • Example group here, as used for ASTDTK14
  • Find out how to do pretty much anything with this free book “How to Really use LinkedIn
  • You may notice that my example group doesn’t have much action – probably because I didn’t have participant names/emails prior to the session to invite them to take part
  • Tip: Be sure to ask good questions and give pre-training assignments, where participants can report back in the group


Share knowledge and get people thinking prior to the course

  • Create a playlist on YouTube or share a blog-post or other online resource
  • Use a story-based tool like InkleWriter from InkleStudios to allow participants to discover the content by themselves in an interactive way – example from my leadership training


During training

Ask participants to make notes together

  • I am now using the GingkoApp tool, which is free to use and can be simultaneously accessed by multiple people on different devices
  • See a well-used example here
  • Notes can be exported nicely to MS Word (and other formats) meaning you can easily create a bespoke participant training book after your session


Quiz, vote and get feedback during the session

  • During tk14, Chad Udell did a great job of using PollEverywhere.com to collect ideas and brainstorm during his session
  • Other tools like Socrative are easy to use and have a mobile app available on both iOS and Android


Ask the network

  • Since participants have their own (vast) networks, why not get them to ask people for opinion or references via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook – this can take time, but over multiple day sessions, input can be valuable
  • Use Skype to invite an expert to “attend” the session


Document your flipcharts

  • If your flipcharts are worth looking at, they are worth keeping
  • Take pictures and upload them to a sharing/storage platform like SkyDrive or GoogleDocs
  • Example here
  • You could also consider using Vine to make that sharing more interesting – example here


Ask participants to video-document their most important learning points

  • Do this with a smartphone and create a YouTube playlist or other storage facility to pull them all together
  • Again: Be careful with privacy issues
  • Feeling creative? Why not use ChatterPix for iPhone instead – example here


Augment your training materials

  • Wouldn’t it be cool if participants could scan their training materials and overlay an augmented reality video? You can 🙂
  • Not sure what I mean? Download Aurasma follow “dansteer” and follow “public auras” then scan this image to get a (rubbish, but functional) example
  • Publicise the Aurasma function near the front page of the workbook


After training

Collect L1 satisfaction feedback or references or learning points

  • I use padlet.com to create a free wall in a couple of clicks
  • Send the link to participants and they can add what they want
  • Example here
  • You can add a password to the wall and change other privacy settings if you want
  • If you create a (free) accounr, you can manage what is posted, delete things etc..


Social internet bookmarking

  • Collect internet references in a cool radial (mindmapping) style using Pearltrees.com
  • Example here
  • Participants can add references (if you let them)
  • People can “pick your pearls” to take your references for themselves (if you let them)


Create a bookshelf so participants can find your favourites easily

  • I use shelfari.com to create my virtual bookshelf
  • Add a short summary of the book and rate it if you want to
  • ..I don’t bothher following people, that’s not the point for me



To really make all this work, here are a few additional tips…


Good luck!


Other resources related to my ASTDTK14 session can be found here

Thanks for reading!

See you on Twitter?



Published by Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

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