Twitter as a learning aid – learning beyond university to informal learning

Learning beyond university to informal learning using micro-blogging

formal university learningTwitter can be used as a great aid to learning, but is it a replacement for traditional learning strategies?

Following the publication of a recent post Why Twitter is good for learning  we have received a significant amount of supportive feedback. However some academic based sites have criticised the piece without understanding some of the fundamentals of learning and what Twitter and other micro-blogging platforms are capable of offering. Certainly learning appears to be stuck in the confines of “formal learning”, apparently missing the 80% of real learning that most of us do on a day to day basis.

It is interesting, as I sit and write this I am thinking about getting ready to attend the IITT annual training conference, one of only two “formal learning” interventions I will have undertaken for several months. But is this the only learning I do? .. no. I learn far more in an informal way from reading blogs , twitter and networking with like (and unlike) people.

This short piece has been written to provide some clarity on the application of the first article.

Firstly let me clarify my thoughts:

I am not advocating that Twitter can replace e-learning, classrooms or books, nor indeed any formal learning tool or strategy, however I am advocating use of twitter as an adjunct to learning strategies as a blended approach to re-enforce learning and key messages. We know that the most effective learning needs to be ‘just in time’, in a styles (learning or communication) that suits the learner, and that repetition helps.

Having read comments on other sites about this piece it is interesting that some people equate learning to be education, and only effective from university or books. Learning to me is very different from education and knowledge. Indeed our own model:

Knowledge >>> Understanding >>> Action = Learning

shows this – where education often only provides the knowledge.

Our work over the past 10 years with many owner-managers and entrepreneurs (many educated at some of the worlds leading MBA courses, UK, US & EU) clearly demonstrate that people gain knowledge on such courses, however real Understanding comes from making real world mistakes after putting it into action. Not from comprehension at an academic level. Many exiting from MBAs and other such programmes believe they have understanding – however as is often shown using the model – the four steps to learning  we don’t know what we don’t know (unconscious competence), is often the mental state we are in after completing such a course. This is not to say that these programmes are not of value, they are – but not in the way many expect.

Not all learning occurs within the confines of a university or other establishment

Twitter is a tool which appears to have been adopted more by those in the age group 30-45  and little in the group 18-25. This says a lot about the platform and its relevance. Twitter as a learning tool is by its nature adhoc, sporadic, informal and most of all unstructured. Exactly the way we learn when we are not on a fixed programme of study. It is very much about learning what you need to learn at a given point in time.

So twitter and other micro-blogging tools:

  • great to create a spark – a desire to learn
  • great to find current thinking – and to start the journey of learning in a given area
  • excellent for adhoc information and knowledge acquisition
  • excellent as a refresher to existing learning
  • excellent for learning from peers and their experiences
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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.

Comments

  1. Hi Mike

    Liked both posts on Twitter as a learning tool. Prompted me to post this: http://www.xperthr.co.uk/blogs/employment-intelligence/2009/09/twitter-as-a-training-tool.html to show how a trainer is using Twitter.

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