Since I wrote my article last week about critical theory, I have been more attuned to the messages being propagated by my peers.
For example, some of them have been blogging and tweeting about the role of social media in driving the pro-democracy protests in Egypt.
The truth, I suspect, is that the protests in Egypt have been catalysed by the amassing of the population for prayer.
Good centuries-old social networking.
Bloggers and the Twitterati are self-evident social media fans, so it’s to be expected that some of them will adopt an evangelical view of the role of Web 2.0 in world affairs.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to underplay the role of social media in connecting people with each other and with the outside world. It certainly played its part in Tunisia and Iran, for example. Besides, if it wasn’t useful, oppressive governments wouldn’t try to shut it down.
No, my point is that while social media is a significant component of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement, it is one among equally or even more significant components.
Put it this way: the protests would still have happened if the Internet did not exist.
The fact that it does exist means the people have a universal communications tool at their disposal.
Closer to home
Drawing all this down to the less heady world of e-learning, I can certainly see a parallel.
It’s important to recognise the role of social media in facilitating social learning in the workplace. However it’s not a panacea.
Relying on truisms such as “all learning is social” and on altruistic notions such as “collaborative learning” is a cop out.
Your learning architecture needs to include much more, such as on-demand self-paced learning resources (eg wikis, simulations, e-books) and – dare I say it – formal training (eg virtual classes, online courses, assessments).
My point here is that while social media is a significant component of the corporate learning model, it is one among equally or even more significant components.
Put it this way: learning would still happen in the workplace if social media did not exist.
The fact that it does exist means we have an effective learning environment we can leverage.