The Most Important Thing I'll Do This Year
Implementing Social Media: A Tale of Two Case Studies

The Triumph of Peer-to-Peer, Bottom-Up and Open Source

I have consistently been impressed by the Obama campaign's use of social media, particularly in the past 12 months.  His win last night suggests to me yet another reason that we must take the tools of social media seriously as having the power to utterly transform old paradigms for getting things done, as this morning's article in WIRED indicates:

He's run a campaign where he's used very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way, he's reinvented the way campaigns are run," says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the nonprofit think-tank NDN, and a veteran of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. "Compared to our 1992 campaign, this is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit."

So what does this have to do with social media and learning?

Over 63 million people voted for Obama--52% of the eligible voting population, most of whom are either working now or on their way to working.  They are in your classrooms and cubicles and something has changed.

Many--maybe most--of these 63 million people participated in a movement that showed them the power of peer-to-peer, bottom-up, open source approaches to online participation. They felt a sense of community,  like they had influence and multiple ways to participate. Every day they received emails and Twitter alerts letting them know how they could participate in supporting Obama's campaign and connect to others like them. For months, they sent and received millions of text messages, read and wrote blog posts, created and joined Facebook groups, uploaded photos to Flickr and created and shared untold YouTube videos.

These people have experienced the power of social networks and social media tools and they liked the what they saw.   As a result, I suspect that they will have even less patience and motivation for participation in linear, solitary elearning and boring webinars  that do not actively engage them as co-creators of knowledge and skills.

They've seen another way and it will be hard not to think about how technology could be used differently.They may not be able to articulate this at first, but they can't help but compare their experiences here to their experiences of how these same tools are being used for learning.

The bar has been raised and I wonder if we know what impact that will have--how might our profession be changed?  So much of learning is about the emotional connections we make to content and for many people, their connection to technology has been forged and redefined through participation in an incredibly emotional event. I don't want to overstate the case, but I do have to ask--are we ready for what is coming our way?


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Somewhat related to this was an interview I saw with Lorne Michaels who credited the popularity of SLN this fall to the internet. People who did not see the great job Tina Fey did impersonating Palin could access it anytime from any computer from multiple sites on the internet. Bloggers embedded the clips in their blogs, and friends e-mailed the location to those still not familiar with Web 2.0.

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