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What I've Been Up To: Some Social Media Training Resources

Borrowing from the Library to Support Workplace Learning

Joyce Valenza is a librarian rockstar who also happens to be the head librarian at my daughter's high school. A recent post she wrote for the School Library Journal on strategies for teaching and using social media showed up in my Twitter feed the other day. It turns out there are were some cool ideas in it that I think would translate well to workplace learning. A couple of that jumped out at me. . .

Moving Beyond One Trick Single Search

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Students aren't the only ones who need to use search engines to get their work done. Most cubicle dwellers these days need to sharpen their search skills and Joyce has some good advice and resources. Check out her Categorized Search Toolkit with links to tons of search engines and videos on running searches. (Here's another great list of search resources and an excellent post from Tony Karrer on doing better searches. And here are some Google lesson plans on search to check out).

Also don't miss Google Wonder Wheel. It's a search option that allows you to  display Google search results in a mind-mapped sort of visualization that makes it easier to see relationships and drill down into related terms. Very cool, but you may need to check it out to see what I mean. (For more visual search engines, check out this post on 4 options)

Joyce also describes some of the strategies she uses to support her learners' search efforts that I think translate well to the workplace. For example, she sets up Google Customized searches to query targeted sites and address specific needs.This could be set up  to search key best practice resources or for social searches of Twitter, blogs, and other resources related to company or occupational keywords.

While we're on the subject of search, she also teaches students about some people-finder search engines to assess and possibly address their digital footprint and online "personal brand." This is something many workers need to learn how to do and should be part of any organization's orientation training, I'd argue.

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Personal Information Portals

I firmly believe that one of our developing roles in the learning world is that of digital curator. There is just so much information and people need help in identifying good sources and pulling it all together, something librarians do very well.

Joyce helps students develop "personal information portals" using tools like iGoogle PageFlakes and NetVibes. These are simply feed aggregators that can be customized to include RSS feeds to blogs, news feeds, videos, etc. related to particular topics. I think of them as "dashboards" for collecting information on a particular area of interest into a single page that is automatically updated.

In the work world, this means that we can create customized pages with RSS feeds related to any topics we want. Picture, for example,  a "leadership" information portal with the feeds for key leadership blogs and resources embedded into the page. Or a "management" portal that includes great supervisory/management feeds. These can be shared with others via email, IM, etc. Here's an example of a UK Hospital Management Page--note that there are tabs for different departments. And here's another example for university staff to keep up-to-date on leadership issues. Note that these can be just one page in a larger personal information portal that workers could set up for themselves.

Related to this idea, I've been using Delicious to support many of my clients, setting up tags for various projects and continuing to add to the resources even after my work has finished. It takes me less than a second to add the project tag and is a great way for me to continue to add value and support learning long after I've gone. And for those who use PageFlakes, Netvibes or iGoogle, subscribing to the Delicious tag feed puts these resources right into their own personal information portal.

Telling Digital Stories

Increasingly we are seeing that digital story-telling is a powerful strategy for learning. As instructional designers we can use stories to illustrate key points, especially in designing e-learning. Storytelling is also a good way for learners to process and reflect on learning, particularly in support of reflective practice and communities of practice. Stories also help us to remember things. Joyce has a nice library of digital story-telling resources that could be used in a work setting. Alec Couros also has some resources that he got from his Twitter network.

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Wikify Your Handouts

This is a strategy that I've been using for most of the courses and workshops I do--putting all of my "handouts" into a wiki. Actually, my wiki IS the handout. It's the easiest way for me to share links, videos, photos, documents, etc. related to my topic. I don't waste paper and people can keep adding to it after we're done. I can also embed the Delicious tags that I set up for the training and continue to add after the learning event is finished.

Joyce does a version of this with the subject area pathfinders she's set up for students to explore different topics. Here's one I did recently to support a project on implementing social media to support a youth project. 

Many other interesting ideas in Joyce's article that could potentially be adapted for your situations. I strongly encourage giving it a read.


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Your daughter is very lucky to have Joyce at her school. You're right, she's a rockstar!

Harold, I couldn't agree more. And even my daughter, who is not known for her love of school, thinks Joyce is great.

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