Monday, September 21, 2009

Elastic Learning Design: How Social Media Transforms Course Structure

Sahana in response to my post on Ideanets, had the following comment.

"I love the idea of "ideanet" and these moving and expanding, gathering more and more force en-route. I can see an analogy to Twitter here--a collection of 140 characters coming from different directions, converging on certain topics and forming a veritable flood of ideas on that topic. From this mix emerges something that is powerful, innovative, transformation in nature."

I liked the brevity of the message here. What underlies this statement is a powerful message on what laser-focused topic discussions and little good digression can have on learning.

A similar format was started by our community at Ning. Join us to view the topics under discussion here.

In many cases, the output of a learning design is to create a table of contents or a course structure with limited amount of elasticity in allowing for change: Expansion, Contraction based on current context. The idea of elasticity in these instances is to make a remediation path or a custom learning path pre-configured to a certain assessment score. The role of social media has not changed it, but eliminated this constraint in unparalleled ways.

The funny thing is that social media is not a learning medium or tool.
It is an exchange medium
. It is a place to
  1. bond,
  2. develop relationships,
  3. collect,
  4. discuss,
  5. lead,
  6. participate,
  7. share your possessions: It could be your friends, knowledge, music collection, books, etc.
Yet, the revolution it brings on to learning and development on an individual is to challenge old notion of a structure and replace with a structure that is
  1. unstructured, yet
  2. dynamic,
  3. relevant,
  4. intuitive,
  5. appealing,
  6. important and
  7. hence ELASTIC in nature.
And yes, in these is true learning and spirit of learning that endures our lives. Hence design and invest in a social media program that even if 1% in your company is active, it is worthwhile investment.

But yes and again, having an Intranet portal or a technology implementation is not sufficient condition to be in social media community place. You need to buzz it every time, every occasion, every where. Have you done it ?

To enable such elastic learning design in a company/community cannot happen in a vacuum. Users just don't create content on their own. They need content to talk about, need to talk with people, to generates true social media learning content. Hence investing in e-Learning around the vision of taking the next big step in social media learning would get you better ROI strewn in the path of e-learning implementation.

A truly Elastic Learning Design will give the endurance of time, life-long support and automated self-coach vehicle with the promise of higher return every time the content is accessed by a consumer.

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