Before language evolved, we used symbols and expressions. They evolved to form words and hence sentences. Language allowed us to create stories and human beings learned through stories shared in a social context. Learning was social in nature.
Then, literature evolved and allowed many people to learn from the same sources. In this world, the more knowledge you possessed, the more powerful you were. Learning was imparted by one to many and progression of our knowledge was linear – one level after the other.
Then a revolution happened and all literature went online – Wikipedia democratized information and knowledge is now available in form of eBooks, Blogs, Online Communities, Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Online Video resources and now MOOCS (Massively Open Online Courses).
We moved from industrial age to knowledge economy and now into a creative one. In this economy, just having (and hoarding) knowledge is not powerful, what you do with that knowledge is!
Internet is a great equalizer – we all have access to a network that is open and connected. Open means we have access to all fundamental knowledge, resources, technology, online courses etc. Connected means we are able to form groups and communities, exchange knowledge, compile and synthesize ideas, source solutions of our problems through a community, provide solutions to a community, take the ideas forward and collaborate with global community.
In an open and connected world, learning is imparted by many to many. Progression of knowledge is non-linear, rapid and broad.
Social and informal learning can (and should) complement the classroom learning. That is because a classroom imparts knowledge that is explicit. Social and informal learning impacts knowledge that is implicit/tacit – something that no syllabus can cover or teach.
“When data is ubiquitously accessible, facts are increasingly less important than the ability to place these facts in a context and deliver them with an emotional impact” – Dan Pink, The Whole New Mind
Why do we take all the pain to learn on our own when we are paying so much to the university?
Because we live in a fast paced world which is constantly changing. Because we compete globally. Because learning is never static. Because in this world, continuous and self-directed learning is the only sustainable competitive advantage we all have.
You have an opportunity to accelerate your learning process, take more chances, connect meaningfully, take your career to the next level and make a greater difference. Learning starts with an intention and the focus is on YOU.
We have come a full cycle and learning is social again.
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Over to you! How has social media platforms contributed to your learning? What techniques or tools do you employ to leverage social media as a learning platform – for yourself or for your organization?
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Note: This post is based on a talk I recently delivered at Nirma University, Institute of Law on their annual event “Confluence 2013”. My talk was well received and students asked a lot of questions during the panel discussion on how they can leverage social media for learning.
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