Social Learning, Social Media – Brothers in Arms

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Is it me or does it seem that most vendors in the LMS/LCMS market still believe that with some smoke and mirrors, you won’t realize that social media actually must be integrated into social learning for it to exist? Or do they just drop the word, “social media”, and rather say, “social learning and web 2.0”?

After all, many have a blog, wiki, RSS feed, a Facebook like page, with profile, inc. an image, friends can connect and see comments – sort of like a Twitter and the end user can tweet within the LMS”. See, it is social learning. Not!!!

Brief Background

Tim Berner-Lee, Founder of the World Wide Web and coined the term “Web 2.0”

“Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along. And in fact, you know, this ‘Web 2.0,’ it means using the standards which have been produced by all these people working on Web 1.0.”  — Tim Berner-Lee

It’s all about Hype

Web 2.0 is still being hyped in the market, as the upcoming Web 2.0 expo clearly shows and some argue that social media grew up within the web 2.0 process.

Nevertheless, social media has overtaken its Web 2.0 buzz, now standing and expanding on its own. The expo? Features social media solutions.  When people scour the job markets, employers post seeking social media experts. Social media covers over 15 categories and grows as more offerings slide in there.  With APIs and mashups, who knows where it can go.

Social Learning & Social Media

Can one exist without another? The answer is no.  Social Learning = Learning, Collaboration & Communication.  To achieve this and move forward, social media must be integrated into the platform or mechanism.

I often see vendors in the e-learning space that believe that social learning is similar to what I listed at the beginning of this article.  While some vendors in the LMS/LCMS space will argue that they offer similar “real life” social media offerings in their solution, the key here is “similar”.

Real life social media, is just that – real time, real life. Open sharing of information, collaboration and communication.  Does this exist in your system? Can you tweet in real time in your LMS and people outside of your system see your tweet? Then, people outside of the LMS tweet and you (as the end user) can see the tweet in real time in the LMS?  This goes beyond just your “friends” within the system, and extends to the outside real world.

I know of only one LMS that does this, just one.  The others who offer the “similar”, offer just that “similar”, but not the full open sharing of information.  A counter argument for not offering the “real life” experience is the fear or someone saying something, or security issues, but for most companies, it is really the former. After all, if you are enabling your employees to read their internet emails, surf the web or even Tweet during company time, security is not the concern.

One vendor created a “filter” system so the administrator would type in words that were unacceptable, thus when the end user typed them, in real time, they appeared as *** or not at all. Sadly, they do not offer it as an open sharing of information – internal to external system, rather just for end users in the LMS, when writing on a blog, wiki, etc.  At least it is a start.

A filter system could be created tied to any open sharing of information – internal LMS to real world and back again and work.


End users want the ability to open only one window and have everything contained within it.  If you could have your real time Twitter, Linkedin feeds, Facebook and some other social media capability, and your end user did not have to open any other screens, what is the likelihood, that your system would increase in sales?

An Emerging Trend in Social Media: Geolocating

While it has been around for awhile, you are really starting to see traction on it.  You sign up an account online, select some options, and you are able to see where your friends are in real time on a map or as it says “location”.

Download the solution’s app to your smart phone or tablet, and now on the go – you can see in real time where all your friends are located (those who signed up for the service). The social media solution utilizes your built in GPS with your smart phone, tablet or ties it into your IP address via your laptop, netbook, etc, regardless if you are at home or in the coffee shop.

Social Media LMS or Virtual Communities or Portals – Ultimate Learning Experience

I want the ultimate learning experience, so not only do I want to select and have friends follow me within my LMS and chat with them or have them read my feeds, but I want to know where they are and vice versa, so if we want to meet up we can.  We want to take that next level of collaboration and communication. We wish to expand on another social media form – “events” – see as an example;  and intertwine them.

So, what can we do?  Add geolocating as part of our social learning services.  Now, I want an even greater experience, so  I will add a virtual world.

Toss in scheduled webinars, real time livecasting, real time video streaming, avatars that have the face image of your end user and not Sigmund the Sea Monster, communicate in real time – with mini video screens between learners – beyond just texting, and while you are at it… track it..everything, full analytical data. Yeah, you can toss in e-commerce, APIs, Mashups, and add any social media you can think of – slideshare presentations?  You bet.  App Sharing? Simple.

How far are we away from such a real world application?  Not that far away, especially as technology, access speed (for the end user) and the on-going growth of social learning continues.  5 years? Easily.

New term:  Social Learning 3D  – Learning, Communication, Collaboration, 3D experience

Your LMS is your hub, a virtual learning community truly exists – to/from your LMS.  Eliminating a piece here or there and a patchwork of odds and ends.

It would require a lot of capabilities in one solution to tap into various learners’ tastes, wants and companies training goals; something LMS/LCMS vendors always seem to be one step behind.  It would be something someone hasn’t seen before, which for most vendors is unacceptable, but it could be done. Now where did I put my Ipad?

Top Geolocating Sites: Loopt Foursquare brightkite

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