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Facebook – a platform for elearning 2.0

The first generation of elearning sucked. Blinded by the flexibility of technology a lot of crappy courses were developed. The economics seemed irresistible – almost no delivery cost, endless scale, deep libraries and unmatched flexibility. The business case looked good. And so we were greed by great announcements from the HR department of a “new generation” of support for staff’s self-development.

Except – it didn’t really work. I did a study once before a rollout of a new elearning offering was planned. A test access was given to 30 people. Within 3 months they could test and evaluate. Results: no one finished a course. Rating on a scale from 1-5: 2.1 (5 being great). Why?

I think elearning 1.0 was too static. Initially it was text-based, later audio came along, then video. Most case studies were lame. Most exercises trivial. There were a lot of multiple-choice options in there. I took a course in a subject I was somewhat proficient in. I couldn’t pass most multiple-choice things, because they were asking for a definition which I really didn’t care about. (It reminded me of growing up bi-lingual. I had to take English classes in school which I already knew. I sucked at grammar even though I could speak better than the teachers. I was good at practice, not good at theory). Now, there is a case for theory, but come on– what knowledge workers need to know can very rarely be boiled down to multiple-choice formats.

There was one great online-course I did. Peter Drucker’s stuff on Corpedia (disappeared by now). It was basically a series of insights by Peter Drucker and then very open questions for self-reflection (plus that great Austrian accent of Peter). That course was engaging and actually really helpful. But it lived from Peter Drucker’s insights and brilliance, as well as the restrained from that “testing” nonsense.

Here comes Facebook. Great learning is about great theory and great interaction. No better tool than Facebook for that. Here is a scheme I have seen recently that I benefited more than even from the Drucker course. This was the steps in the course:

1. kick-off call – everyone was invited to an opening call with the goals and methods used.

2. lecture – provided with itunes U, it was an mp3 (or video) with about an hours worth of lecture

3. reflection – a hidden group in facebook with a new question posted every week on the lecture. People had 250 words to answer (kiss).

4. interaction – we had 2-3 days to respond to other posts

5. summary – the teacher read all posts and comments and did a video-summary. This was posted in the Facebook group as well.

6. project – at the end of the 4 weeks, we did a learning project. Create something and do some kind of transfer.

7. final call – a final phone conference to tie things up.

In addition, there was one book to read, as well as two supporting books for who wanted to go deeper. Also, where possible people were encouraged to meet in person to discuss their insights (which we did and benefited from a lot).

Great new learning. Why? Interaction. Real, meaningful interaction. That is what elarning 1.0 lacked. Of course, it doesn’t scale as well and it limits the flexibility. But it seems that elarning is finally moving on and getting some real development. Most tools are free. No need for elaborate platforms. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out in the future.


Filed under: learning, ,

12 Responses

  1. Really great post so thank you for sharing.

    I completely agree that there is a misconception or negative preconception when it comes to eLearning. I too have sat through early eLearning examples which involved little more than clicking through to the next section – basically nothing more than self-navigated PowerPoint decks.

    The 7-step scheme you outline that incorporates facebook (although it could be any effective collaboration platform) is an excellent example of how we can harness and leverage the power of these tools to drive learning. Are you able to share what skill / behaviour the scheme was designed to develop / change?

  2. I like the concept of eLearning 2.0, but not using Facebook as it’s technology base; there are too many issues with their model and privacy terms (that are constantly changing) to make it a viable solution. There are better solutions that can do this (and more,) whilst still giving you control of privacy, access, and the underlying technology.


  3. cynan_sez says:

    Agree with David — there’s not much about 1-7 that requires facebook in particular (over say, cutting edge mid 1990s internet bulletin board technology!)

    It might do for niche consultant providers but for mid/large organizational approaches, trusting anything to Facebook could leave one swinging in the breeze…

  4. marlster says:

    no facebook needed
    makes for a better headline though 🙂

  5. Jane Bozarth says:

    Facebook might not be needed, but it’s there, users clearly like it, it eliminates the need for yet another site/login/password, and it is very easy to add in multimedia from other sources–not so with many other tools. More importantly, it’s already there, eliminating the common delay tactic, “Well, we can’t use that so we’re going to look at/talk about/read about something else…” forever.

  6. cynan_sez says:

    Marlster – are you the author of this blog post? If so you’ve gone from “no better tool than Facebook for that” in your post to “conceded” and said you referred to facebook just to make a better headline?

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I feel like I’ve been link-baited rather than drawn into a useful discussion here….

  7. marlster says:

    @cynan_sez: yes, i’m the author.
    I agree it is not needed. There is little particular about facebook as a technology that makes it stand out.

    I also agree with Jane that whatever people like is good, especially if they are on it often.

    I also agree with you that for businesses it might not be what the like (in terms of security and flair of the platform).

    The point about this form of elearning is that it needs interaction that an ai-engine can’t provide. Most knowledge worker learning is too complex to program with some authoring software.

  8. cynan_sez says:

    Anyway, back on topic…

    Jane – all good points! Particularly around shortcutting the major delays caused in the IS/LMS investment cycle. For some orgs it might be a useful interim solution while that goes on; I think the real challenges in better KM/collaborative/e2.0 working (including elearning under that umbrella) are more about supporting and encouraging staff to change their ways of working and feeling the payoff, rather than being about this platform or the other.

  9. […] mein HR Blog – Facebook a platfrom for elearning 2.0 […]

  10. nice posting.. thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. tweete says:

    I would like to keep current with developments on this project. I know of two trailblazers in the area of early childhood, Happy Feet CC, and Life 4 Life after school that might be open to piloting small projects. Happy Feet, is a multicultural Child care provider in NC, and Life 4 Life, is a budding after school program, the evolved from a tested Summer Day Camp.

    Tweete Robinson

  12. Abdul says:

    Great Post Dude.. Yes. Facebook is a right platform for elearning. We are in elearning industry which is involve in facebook. Thanks for sharing yaar.

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