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Keeping Up with Social Media: Key to E-Learning Success

Even as a recent college grad, I feel out of touch with the newest and latest technology programs. My college experience wasn’t filled with iPads or interactive whiteboards, we didn’t have online classes or even Blackboard to submit our assignments.

Now I’m working on a masters degree. I’m studying to get a masters in publishing but sometimes as I try to employ the technology, I feel I could just as well be studying Chinese. . Fortunately for me I have some tech-savvy friends that were willing to help out. So I’ve made it through my first semester.

Like many of my peers, I’m going to school while juggling jobs. In joining the workforce, my experience with technology shifted from something that I used merely for entertainment, to absolute necessity. I had to adapt a “sink or swim” approach if I wanted to get by, or better, impress my potential employers.

Somedays I think, “How will I ever find time to eat, let alone Tweet?”

But I’m doing both at The Public Manager and my eyes have opened to a world of opportunity.

E-learning is flourishing in today’s workplace and with budget cuts a-plenty, virtual training sessions using Blackboard or Twitter may be imperative to saving time and money for your company. By cutting out travel time and costs, training sessions can be held virtually and effectively without needing a face-to-face interaction.

I’m not saying that we should all cut out face-time completely, but adapting social media practices and being proactive is the best way to tackle the woes of the rapidly changing e-learning world. Taking small steps to learn about the newest learning tools is all it takes to get going in the right path and bring your company up to speed; not left in the dust!

Follow ASTD & The Public Manager on Twitter (@ASTDGOV)

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

I’m not too fond of the traditional e-learning (computer-based courses), but it is a way to deliver those annual mandatory trianing courses at the least expense to the agency. I’ve been a big fan of webinars and virtual conferences. Most are free, limited to one hour, and informative. HR.com is an innovator in this area. Also, professional organizations tend to sponsor these regularly. New tools, like Google+ Hangouts, that the President used recently are great for more informal, interactive learning. What’s important is that you respect the presenter, the material is relevent and engaging, the venue in interactive (polls, Q&As), and the cost is right (free).

E. Jamie Mack

In my experience with e-learning environments I think that Terrance is correct. Presentations of the information must, even more than in a face-to-face setting, engage the audience completely. It is much easier to be distracted on your computer desk than it is when you are sitting in an auditorium, and your inattention to the presentation would go unnoticed as well via the web. Therefore it has to be a commitment from the presenters as well as the learning community to be engaged and active in their learning experience, no matter what form.

What I like about e-learning and the newer formats that are being used by companies (such as Twitter forums and live discussions) is that it allows for a large volume of questions during and after the presentation to be answered that otherwise may not allow time for during the live presentation. I think that this is really helpful as the presenter has more time to formulate the best response and the learning community has time as well to think about the presentation and ask better questions.

Currently I am using Blackboard in my graduate classes, and it is really helpful for my professors to keep all of our material posted there, messages can be transferred back and forth and questions can be posted to the entire class easily and more efficient communication happens this way.

We also use Skype for class sessions that our professor cannot attend (out of town). These sessions I feel more distracted and less likely to take intensive notes. This setting is not ideal for me because I am a very hands-on type of learner.

What I don’t like about e-learning is that you don’t get the energy that you may have during a live training session. For me, virtual demonstrations are less memorable than hands-on training and face to face interactions.

I think that overall there should be a balance to the methods used for learning. Everyone has a different learner profile (sensory, auditory etc.) and I think that e-learning is just another venue to use in order to best reach out to all different types of learners. E-learning classes and virtual settings may not be the best fit for everyone, (best for the agency budget at times…) but the capabilities that are available to trainers and educators with the virtual technologies should be explored more in order to benefit from what they can provide.