The Rock.Paper.Scissors newsletter is out: Four Ways Social Media is Transforming Workplace Learning (or how to be a space cowboy)

The latest Rock.Paper.Scissors e-newsletter is out with a manifesto on how to be a space cowboy (aka how Social Media is transforming workplace learning).

If Social Media is like the Wild West, with everyone figuring it out as we go along, then using Social Media specifically for training and development is in another galaxy completely.

That galaxy is quickly approaching however, so join me space cowboy as we take a ride through these wide-open spaces, focusing on how Social Media is Transforming Workplace Learning, which happens to be the title of the brand new, upcoming workshop I’m teaching. (Or see below for a brief video describing it.)

To the uninitiated, Social Media tends to make for sweaty palms and loads of excuses (see 10 reasons businesses don’t get social media).

But get used to it because Social Media is here to stay.  As Jeff Bulla says, Social Media is essential because it lasts, spreads and lets you be found.

Just how is Social Media transforming workplace learning and the field of training and development? 
  1. It’s engaging: because of the 3 C’s – collaboration, community and creativity
  2. It’s learner-centred
  3. It leverages retention
  4. It’s convenient (for you and the learner)

 More on each….

1. It’s engaging

Social Media is engaging because of the 3 C’s – collaboration, creativity and community.

Using a variety of Social Media platforms I’ve worked collaboratively on projects with people from Africa, South American, the UK and the Eastern US.  Time zones become almost irrelevant as collaborative tools make it easy to connect and work together.  I’ve even used my Virtual Assistant, located in India, to translate some French instructions into English while I was in Kenya – using, you guessed it, Social Media.

Need a great image of a stressed out learner for your next workshop? Easy peasy.  Images are just one way Social Media tools make it easy to be increasingly creative (and to access other’s creativity).  To have effortless, free access to great images simply go to (Just make sure you click on ‘for professional use’ so you’re using images with permission.)

Or maybe you need a great video clip highlighting the effects of conflict.  If you’re not using for training clips what are you waiting for?  I rarely give a workshop without using a video clip these days and I have my favourites bookmarked for ease of access.

What would have taken thousands of dollars and weeks of effort to shoot and edit now takes a few minutes to track down and use for free.

It’s called Social for a reason.  I’ve interacted with trainers from communities of interest in Israel, India and Turkey to name a few, all based on social media platforms.

I have communities of interest organized across a variety of platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn, which I check on regularly to see what’s of interest.  I recently used my online community to help a colleague in Los Angeles who was looking for a good florist in Switzerland.

You couldn’t pay for that kind of community interaction even a mere few years ago (says the woman who still remembers sending her first fax, which at the time, seemed absolutely magical).

2. It’s learner centred

Social Media goes hand in hand with great pedagogy.  From an adult education perspective it respects prior learning and gives control to the learner.  Having control is one of the key factors in reducing stress, and because stress plays a pivotal role in learning, reducing stress increases learning (so says John Medina in his book Brain Rules, which is the subject of next month’s newsletter).

 From a brain-based learning perspective Social Media facilitates creating sticky learning, arousing creativity, using rhythm and chunking and a variety of modalities for learning.  Social Media is often experiential as well, supporting experiential learning.

 Social Media also supports a number of popular education key principles, including:

–        moving people towards taking action, effecting social change

–        being cooperative and collaborative

–        acknowledging that everyone is both a teacher and a learner

3.    It leverages retention

As Jeff Bulla says because Social Media lasts, spreads, and lets you (and content) be found it’s a huge help with retention.

 Remember that great workshop you took in 1992? No?  Me neither, but thanks to content being searchable (a key feature in Douglas Merrill’s Getting Organized in the Age of Google) that information can be a few mere keystrokes away.


4.    It’s convenient – for you and the learner

Social Media makes access to learning 24/7.  And as a trainer, once you get the hang of it, most Social Media tools are easy to use and free to boot.  And here’s the thing – they make your job as a trainer easier and they make you look like a more engaged, engaging, creative trainer.

So harness your patience (or should I say horse, you space cowboy), jump in and try some new ways of connecting with participants because Social Media opens up training and development possibilities like never before.  And if you need some support join me in the Nov 14-15th course Transforming Workplace Learning through Social Media ( see below for a brief video describing it.)  Hope to see you there.


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