February 7th, 2013 Course Creation

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social media has changed more than just how we pass the time, it has now infused itself into formal learning channels. Although adoption is slow (for instance, only 15% of teachers find value in Facebook, Wiki, and other social networks), time will only show that it will rise. Interestingly though, about one third of teachers surveyed for this infographic say they use social networking or social media for their instruction.

Seeing as social media is now mainstream, to what extent do we combine it with instructional design methodology? Is it possible to get beyond just the standard “youtube” clip, and engage learners in a way that they are accustomed to every day? I think this is a thin line, but if done correctly, could prove valuable.

The one thing that should be avoided at all costs is relying upon social media as the main venue for the learning at hand. Be it in a school with teenagers or a professional conference with adults, social media without substance to support it is just a distraction, and quite frankly not all that effective – similar to an elearning course overloaded with bells and whistles. Resorting to the “cool” factor in training or educational settings has rarely produced desired results.  Sometimes the old fashioned way is the correct way.

My personal opinion is to use social media (or any “glitzy” functionality) in low quantities.  If the social media truly supports the training, or reinforces learning in the classroom, then by all means give it a go.  But be judicious, and use it sparingly – doing so will increase its effectiveness over time.


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About Justin Ferriman

Justin started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. He is currently founder & CEO of GapScout. Justin's Homepage | GapScout | Twitter


5 responses

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You know how much it pains me when I have to agree with you, so… enjoy this.

The first statement that rocked me back a little was “social media is now mainstream.” Wow, I hadn’t thought about it, but you are correct. During the last hurricane, social media carried the news and connected family and friends when the traditional information infrastructure collapsed. If today’s instructional designer isn’t including social media strategies in their development plans, they are falling behind the digital generation’s needs and desires.

If this was the only great statement, I would have just nodded and kept quiet. But no, then you had to make the bold statement that “Sometimes the old fashioned way is the correct way.” So, once again I must agree with your wisdom. Being neither a behaviorist nor constructivist, I tend to a pragmatic epistemology of “whatever works.” It’s not about the technology or the latest fads; it’s about educational psychology and evidence-based learning strategies.

Like you stated, “If the social media truly supports the training, or reinforces learning in the classroom, then by all means give it a go.” And I especially support the no glitz rule — use it sparingly, with a focus on increasing the effectiveness of the training/education event. Dr. Merrill, who is known for many developments in the field of instructional design, has narrowed the goal of his design philosophy to focus on effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement or E3, as he refers to it.
So, anything attempted or used to positively effect any of those attributes is a note-worthy effort. I would even add to your statement about social media improving effectiveness, that it can also improve the engagement of the students. Wahoo! Two of the big three impacted.
Thankfully yours,
p.s. the infographic rocks

Thanks Randy, glad that I was able to win you over on this one 😉

I agree. Social media must have seamlessly integrated, student centric, appropriate pedagogy, to have individual learning, transfer and application value that results in sustained, individual performance improvement outcomes

Without this intentionally being made educationally innovative it simply remains a communication tool with very little, student, long term, educational value

Hey Justin,

Great article. May I use your infographic for a project I am working on (Social Media in the Classroom).



Avatar RK

Hi RK, thanks for the note. Yes by all means go ahead, but please give credit to the original creator of the infographic (it wasn’t me or LearnDash).

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