Deep Thoughts

Why social media is a powerful tool for continuous learning

It’s no secret that social media gets a lot of negativity and for good reason in some cases, yet due to this narrative we tend to not focus on the good it can bring to our lives. Yes, these platforms provide an opportunity to connect with anyone we want (whether that is real connection is another topic) and with this connection comes an opportunity to share a wealth of knowledge across our communities.

It’s only of late, that I’ve realised just how much social media has been a great tool that enables new and continuous opportunities to learn. Instagram has historically been my poison of choice when looking for quick consumable content to learn something new or even revisit something I need to practice more.

Of my many side passions, overall health and wellness has always been high on my list (as they say, what is wealth without health). Although I regularly refer to Instagram in particular as a black hole that many get lost in, I would be wrong in saying that it has not been a valuable resource in allowing me to connect with the information I need to keep my mind and body healthy. Of course, not everything on this platform should be trusted, you must choose carefully in your educators and steer clear of what seems like an endless parade of charlatans.

I’ve found Twitter and Linkedin to both be an under-utilised resource when it comes to learn new skills and absorbing information from experts on everyday challenges. I frequently use these platforms to engage in conversation, content, develop my expertise and share my own with other communities.

Define your intent

I can imagine a number of you reading this are trying to lessen your use of social media and build a healthy relationship with these platforms and for that I applaud you. However, this doesn’t mean you have to abandon them completely, everything has a capacity for good or evil, it just depends on our intent.

Intent is the key word here, when you use technology or social media, you should have an intent in the interaction with it – so why not make that intent one of learning? Instead of getting lost down that black hole of your endless feeds, define your intent and find what you’re looking for.

Let’s step away from the random consumption we all partake in on our social channels and look to how they can be used in this more intentional approach. Think about tasks or things you’ve been wanting to learn for some time, could you use social media to connect with people to help you with this or find the content by searching through popular hashtags. I regularly use YouTube to develop my technology skills in everything from running linux code to shooting and editing great videos. I’ve learnt so much in the comfort of my own home and at a time and pace that works for my lifestyle.

How can we use this in learning

The quick answer to that, is that most people are probably using their social platforms in this way already, whether they realise that or not is another question.

As part of my role in digital learning, I need to appreciate that people want their learning choices to be as simple as flicking through Instagram. Everyone (including me) doesn’t want to run through a maze of pages and a poorly designed user experience to eventually find the resource which will educate then in how to do x in 5 mins, only for the search process to have taken an hour.

We can learn a lot from some parts of the social media model, one that allows quick consumption with the right intent and the ability to connect with content creators and communities to share more knowledge.

We have some great opportunities with social media platforms to enable continuous learning opportunities for all. A wealth of knowledge is out there for the taking, we just need to invest the time on our personal development and have intent when we go looking for this content, to not get lost in the endless consumption of our feed.

When you’re next designing a learning solution, maybe consider how you can adopt the use of social media with your audience. This is another thing I think about when people complete a classroom course or digital resource, how do we keep that learning alive and developing in the future. I feel this is a great opportunity for social channels to enter and for these audiences to connect with communities whom are talking about the same stuff and sharing their learnings in different stages of their journey.

So I end as I began, in that I believe social media platforms can be a great tool to use within your learning ecosystem and your personal development. Find a way to use these tools with the right intent and you might be surprised at just how much you can learn.

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