Via Christine Martell at Blog Cascadia comes this learning framework from Ray Jimenez on choosing social media for learning. It's based on Ray's reading of Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.
Ray points out that the tendency in using social media for learning is to force creator status on everyone:
The tendency in early adoptions of social networking in learning is the over emphasis on learners becoming active participants. Since Wikis, Blogs and discussions are abundant and tools easy to apply, trainers tend to emphasize the contributions of learners by postings and comments.
This is unfortunate because not all learners may wish or are ready to make comments or participate in discussions, and yet may be willing to do something else. The biggest downside is that, trainers basing on this early experience, tend to conclude that "social learning and networking" does not really work because learners seem not too excited in making comments. I have heard this moaning so many times.
The best instructional design recognizes that you need to meet learners where they're at if you want build the right scaffolding. Forcing people who are naturally lurkers (as most learners are) to move immediately into actor or creator mode may be counter-productive, as it will inevitably turn off your learners.
The solution, Ray suggests, is to create learner "technoprofiles" as he's done here. This framework helps us consider the best strategies to consider in developing learning experiences that use social media.
Christine points out in her post that since we're still in the early adoption phases, learning professionals might need to be focusing more on creating podcasts, videos, screencasts and online presentations that appeal to the lurker audience. I tend to agree, much as I hate to say it. My dream would be that everyone is a creator, but that's obviously not going to be happening, at least in the shorter term. I think that part of the issue is that people don't see themselves as learners. It is also a degree of technophobia.
Although we need to spend time developing things like podcasts, videos, ect., I think that we need to be finding ways to help people move into actor and creator status too, recognizing that this may be a slow transition for many people. This is where using creator tools (i.e., blogs, wikis, etc.) to deliver "lurker" learning can help to move people forward--for example, embedding short, multimedia learning chunks into a blog and encouraging people to try commenting. Adding polls and rating systems may be a good intermediary step to include--it allows people to act on the online content without having to make a full creator kind of commitment.
Using tools that help people bridge the distance between familiar and unfamiliar technologies may also be helpful. Posterous, for example, which allows you to blog entirely through email, seems like a great opportunity for encouraging people to try creating social media.
For me, Ray's framework harkens back to some of what I was thinking about a few months ago when I drew the social media helix. Ultimately I believe that the most valuable and long-lasting learning occurs at the creator level, not at the lurker level. Ray's chart highlights this--check out the "Results" row where the learning result for lurkers is "retention," while for actors it's "application" and for Creators it actually changes work behavior. From a workplace learning perspective, clearly finding ways to move people from lurker to actor or creator is part of improving the quality of that learning.
So the real question becomes what is the proper scaffolding to make this occur? How do we take lurkers and turn them into actors and creators? And I don't want to hear that we should just let people stay at the lurker level. That's like saying that we should just not worry about doing a good job as learning professionals. For me, part of the mission is to help people be better learners, not just to transmit specific content to them. Keeping people at the lurker level is a way to create followers, not creative thinkers and leaders.
UPDATE--Be sure to check out the comments where some really interesting discussions are happening.