Informal Learning Insight of the Month: (3 of 3) Eleven Useful Social Media for Informal Learning

The previous two posts described eleven specific types of social media that you can use for informal learning.

The first explored five social media with which you are likely to already be familiar.

The second post explored six social media that have specific applications for informal learning.

Table 1 in this post summarizes the previous two posts; it shows the different types of social media that you can use for informal learning and suggests some of the impacts of cost and time on using them.

Table 1:   Forms of Social Media Used for Informal Learning

Form of Social Media Costs and Development Time Software and Examples of use
Social Networking Applications in Common Use
Blogs $-$$$ (varies depending on whether you use a public service or privately host the blog, and whether you write the blog yourself or hire ghost writers)‡T-TTT‡(varies depending on the extent of research and review involved, and whether you write the blog yourself or hire a ghost writer)
  • Software used to produce the content:
    • Blogger
    • WordPress
    • Examples of the content:
      • Content-based blog, such as Tony Karrer’s e-learning Technology blog (http://elearningtech.blogspot.com/)
      • Personality-based blog, which reflects the opinions and perspectives of an individual, such as Jay Cross’s Internet Time blog (www.internettime.com)
Social networking  $-$$$$$ (varies depending on whether public or private software is used, and the extent of planning and consideration given to the social networking strategy)‡T-TTTTT‡‡(varies depending on whether social networking is a diversion or a long-term strategy
  • Software used to produce the content:
    • Public social networking sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo
    • Internal software that permits social networking in one form or another, such as Lotus Connections
    • Examples of the content:
      • The LinkedIn group of the Rochester, New York chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, which publishes announcements through the group
      • A Facebook group with alumni of a master’s program in human resource development at a major university
Microblogging $-$$$ (most people use public services so those costs are low; some people hire  ghost writers to tweet for them, which raises the costs)‡T-TTT‡ (varies depending on the extent of time spent on the service) Examples of the content:

  • #Lrnchat, a weekly meeting of learning professionals on Twitter
  • Status updates on the Facebook  and LinkedIn  social networks
  • Status updates in proprietary social networks, such as internal social networks.
Virtual worlds $$$-$$$$$ (even with the use of public software, requires extensive planning and monitoring; can also purchase private islands in Second Life to protect privacy)‡‡‡TTT-TTTTT‡ (varies depending on the extent of labor involved in setting up and monitoring the virtual world)
  • Software used to produce the content: SecondLife
  • Examples of the content:
    • Virtual meetings and classes at IBM
    • Second Louvre museum

 

Photo and video sharing services  $ (cost of using the service, not the cost of creating the photos and videos)T (posting is quick, as is notifying people of the availability of the photos)
  • Software used to share  the content:
    • Flickr (photo sharing service)
    • YouTube (video sharing service)
    • Examples of the content:
      • How-to videos, such as instructions on how to perform basic plumbing tasks
      • Conceptual videos, such as an overview of a new computerized parking meter system in San Francisco
Social Networking Applications that Specifically Designed for Informal Learning Purposes
Wikis and collaborative applications $$-$$$$ (varies depending on extent of review, coordination, and production  involved)‡‡‡TT-TTTTT ‡(varies depending on the extent of writing, review, coordination, and production, required)
  • Software used to produce the content:
    • Wiki authoring tools: MediaWiki and TikiWiki
    • Collborative applications: Google Docs, GoogleSheets,
    • Examples of the content:
      • EduTech Wiki, a wiki about educational technology
      • An internal wiki with information about the components of complex computer software
Electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) $-$$$ (varies depending on extent of planning, production and feedback needed, and whether a public or custom portfolio service is used)TT-TTTTT (varies depending on the extent of planning, design, writing production, programming, and review required) Example: the Europass Curriculum Vitae (http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/documents/curriculum-vitae), which provides a format for preparing an e-portfolio and sharing it with others.
Mentor matching  $$-$$$$ (for a combination of software purchase and support for the mentor-protégé relationship)‡‡TT-TTT (varies depending on the extent of support provided to the mentors and proteges)
  • Software used to produce the content, includes programs like MentorScout
    • Examples of the content: Several mentor matching programs have appeared in the ASTD Awards of Excellence program
Ratings or ranking systems $$-$$$$ (varies depending on extent of production and programming involved in setting up the system, and in monitoring the ratings  on an ongoing basis)‡‡TTT-TTTTT (varies depending on the extent of production and programming, needed to start the system, and ongoing monitoring of the ratings) Examples of the content:

  • Ratings of learning objects deposited in MERLOT, the learning objects repository.
  • Ratings of hotels that appear in TripAdvisor.com.
Bookmarking/ image-tagging sites $-$$$ (varies depending on extent of monitoring and maintaining the links on an ongoing basis, as well as establishing the classification system for links)‡T-TTTT (The time for setting up an individual link or “pin” is quick; the establishment of a system for cataloguing the content and conducting ongoing maintenance of it, however, takes increasing time as the number of items linked grows) Examples of content: Links based on topics.Examples of software:

  • Pinterst
  • Delicious (no longer available)
Personalized Learning Environments (PLEs) $-$$$s (varies depending on extent of production and programming involved in setting up the system, and in monitoring the ratings  on an ongoing basis)‡‡‡TTT-TTTTT (varies depending on the extent of production and programming, needed to start the system, and ongoing monitoring of the ratings) Still in development.

Key:

$: Estimates of cost are relative in comparison to other items rather than pegged to a financial value

‡T: Estimates of time are relative in comparison to other items on this list rather than pegged to a specific time range

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