Keeping It Social: Transforming Workplace Learning and Development through Social Media

Keeping It Social: Transforming Workplace Learning and Development through Social Media

Helen M. Muyia, Fredrick Muyia Nafukho
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8170-5.ch005
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The rapid change and competition in the business world is fundamentally challenging the workplace. Consequently, organizations have begun to adopt a continuous learning philosophy which has resulted in a rise in both formal and informal learning. As social media penetrates our everyday lives, organizations and human resource development professionals are looking at how to leverage social media tools to enhance workplace learning and development. Using such tools also fits in with current initiatives to move learning to a more employee-centered learning. This chapter explores a number of social media tools that can be used to enhance workplace learning and development. First, social media definitions in the workplace context are provided and discussed. This is followed by a discussion on challenges associated with the use of social media for workplace learning and development. A framework of social media effectiveness, grounded in the learning and training processes, is propsed in the chapter.
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In recent years, social media has exploded as a category of online discourse with people creating content, sharing, bookmarking, and networking at a significant rate. With statistics showing that in 2012, Facebook was hosting14.2% of the world’s population and Twitter users were sending 340 million tweets per day (Cheston, Flickinger, & Chilsom, 2013). Harnessing social media potential for workplace learning and development has been touted as a breakthrough across the learning spectrum (Baird & Fisher, 2005; Nafukho, Muyia, &Graham, 2010; Zhao, & Kemp, 2012). Training courses which were traditionally seen as the way for teaching or educating in the workplace are no longer sufficient for delivering ongoing learning and development goals. The focus now is on more flexible ways to achieving learning and development goals (Cifford, & Thorpe, 2007). For example, Cross (2007) argued that workers learn more in coffee rooms than in the classroom, underscoring the fact that social networks have become the new coffee rooms. In this era where technologies can support different learning needs, the workplace currently faced with many challenges can use social media tools to enhance learning and development of their employees.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: Media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible scalable techniques.

Formal Learning: Learning that is organized, and may take the form of a single program, course, or event, and involve institutionalized learning proceses and activities that employees participate in to develop their competencies for current and future work requirements

Development: Process of growth and learning that results into change or progression- grows out of interaction of both internal and external factors.

Training: Planned effort by organizations to facilitate employees’ learning of specific job related competencies.

Informal Learning: Learning that is self-directed, intentional, and is explicit and tacit.

Learning: Process of increasing knowledge and skills, and developing attitudes. Involves change in behavior, development of the learner, and is both a mental process and context bound.

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