Social media and self-directed learning

I found Jane Hart’s post on social media FOR learning most thought-provoking:

I have decided to categorise the use of social media in the following 5 different ways:

  1. IOL – Intra-Organisational Learning – how social media tools can be used to  keep the organisation up to date and up to speed on strategic and other internal initiatives
  2. FSL – Formal Structured Learning – how educators (teachers, trainers, learning designers) as well as students can use social media within education and training – for courses, classes, workshops etc
  3. GDL – Group Directed Learning – how groups of individuals – teams, projects, study groups etc – can use social media to work and learn together (a “group” could just be two people, so coaching and mentoring falls into this category)
  4. PDL – Personal Directed Learning – how individuals can use social media for their own (self-directed) personal or professional learning
  5. ASL – Accidental & Serendipitous Learning – how individuals, by using social media, can learn without consciously realising it (aka incidental or random learning)

This had me thinking about how best to explain these categories to clients and folks not immersed in social media and learning. I started by looking at it as a 2×2 matrix, but of course there are five categories, so that wouldn’t work. However, the axes of the amount of direction versus group size made sense to me, so I created the diagram below. What jumped out at me after the fact, and I’ve highlighted in red, is that social media for learning requires a lot of self-directed learning, either individually or as a participant in a group/organization. Externally directed learning (FSL) is only one of five possibilities. Good food for thought on the future role of the “training” department, isn’t it?

social media for learning

23 Responses to “Social media and self-directed learning”

  1. Jon Husband

    Good food for thought on the future role of the “training” department, isn’t it?


  2. Jon Husband

    @Jay Cross .. heh, indeed.

    Harold’s words, not mine … but I think we both know he was at least implicitly using the tag, no ?

  3. Mags Amond

    mmm..for me, reading Harold Jarche’s matrix of Jane Hart’s list is a prefect example of ASL…

  4. Harold Jarche

    These categories refer mostly to workplace learning, Tarun. FSL would be the general category for formal education, especially if students don’t have an option of taking your courses, choosing the subject matter or taking different paths.

  5. Tirtho Dasgupta

    The idea of social and informal learning in the corporate learning space is fascinating. But the real challenge is how to implement this new learning culture effectively across the organization as people who calls the shot show skepticism as their main argument is how to control and manage the informal learning and how do you measure it. I work as a eLearning teamlead in an MNC where people are even reluctant to embrace the Rapid eLearning over classical Flash-based elearning.

    This categorization of different types of learning is excellent . However I am a bit confused about the term self-directed learning when you write— “social media for learning requires a lot of self-directed learning, either individually or as a participant in a group/organization.”
    Even a formal elearning course is self-directed, isn’t it?

    • Harold Jarche

      Yes, Tirtho, all learning is in some way self-directed, but FSL is directed from outside, in terms of selection and timing as well as externally created learning objectives. FSL has the least degree of self-direction.

  6. Tirtho Dasgupta

    Thanks Harold. Got it now. I would also like to know your view about measuring the Informal learning. Do you think the corporates would implement and invest on social mode of informal learning if they couldn’t measure it properly.

    • Harold Jarche

      Corporations do many things that are not based on pure measurement. What is needed is that informal learning is valued. Anecdotal evidence may be enough to get commitment.


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