Oct 072011

Social Learning: AppFusion: Facebook – The Social LMS Benchmark

Social Learning: By Terrence Wing, October 6, 2011, Via Learning Solutions Magazine
Social Learning: Tom McDonalds Comments:
When we talk about learning  in any context, I think we need to first define how our learning process and research based learning methodologies will advance strategic  individual performance, consistent with strategic organizational objectives.
Then, we need to critically and openly analyze if our chosen methods for individual strategic learning will be consistent with our desired individual strategic outcomes.
Traditional ‘learning’ is deeply entrenched in the one-to-many approach where one size fits all. Unfortunately real individual learning to fluency (mastery) seldom occurs in this environment and when it does, is does not follow the shortest individual path.
If the chosen learning platform does not incorporate proven research based, personalized, one-to-one, learning methodologies, we will still be promoting an ineffective and inefficient way to individually learn.
We still erroneously think that one size fits all approach, that is delivered individually through cool technology, is miraculously transformed into a  personalized, one to one, learning environment. It’s not. The individual accessibilty is dramatically improved, but the individual learning outcomes are not.
If we are serious about advancing individual learning outcomes, we need to mentally take a brief step back from the cool technology and critically analyze how the ‘new’ learning approach differs from the old learning approach and whether the new approach will effectively and efficiently advance individual  learning outcomes.
Individual learning to fluency, in the shortest time possible, requires a one-to-one-approach, with personalized, ongoing, spacing, pacing and reinforcement. Anything less will create ineffective, inefficient and  inconsistent individual learning outcomes.
Lets raise the learning bar and ask for these research proven, critical, individual learning to mastery ingredients, to be integrated into our learning platforms. We then can establish new and improved individual learning  benchmarks.
I sincerely hope that Facebook is instrumental in truely personalizing individual learning experiences and outcomes, consistent with desired individual and organizational strategic objectives. Unless their social learning approach differs from the traditional one-to-many approach, I’m not sure they will deliver much new in our need for bettered individual learning, application, transfer and behavior change.

Social Learning: “Facebook has identified another link in the evolution of global social architecture. This is hardly a step, but more like a gigantic leap forward. Facebook is helping us map the DNA of conversation, collaboration, and relationship building, to name a few elements.”

Social Learning: On September 22nd, the largest and most popular social network, Facebook (over 800-million global users), gave us the first glimpse of their new platform at F8, the Annual Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder) has been at the forefront of designing global social infrastructure ever since he crashed the servers at Harvard University. Today he is still hard at it with the latest upgrades to Facebook.  In this column, I’ll introduce you to the new features and suggest their impact on the future of social learning. Essentially, Facebook is becoming the benchmark for what every Social Learning Management System should be doing. Facebook has essentially allowed users to digitally share the social foundation we use to initiate and maintain every relationship we build with the people in our lives. The new Facebook features are forging new ways for users to share, discover, and connect. Facebook calls these features Timeline and Open Graph.


Timeline is the digital representation of who we are, based on all the information we have shared on Facebook over time. (See Figure 1.) This aggregate would include photos, status updates, our activity on apps, and other media. Timeline was to roll out to everyone on September 29th.

Figure 1.Facebook’s new Timeline feature

When I meet someone new, first questions I try to process are, “What do I have in common with this person?” Where do they work? What do they do for fun? What is their favorite type of music, movie genre, or food? The more common denominators I find, the greater the potential for a relationship. With Timeline, I can travel the journey of their identity from their birth to the present by consuming all the media-rich events of their life. Perhaps you are saying, “This is great if I am looking for a date or building a casual relationship, but what does this have to do with learning in my organization?”

People and relationships are part of the fabric of every activity in an organization. A few months ago I wrote an article titled, Learner Analysis 2.0. I attempted to provide findings that supported the thesis that using demographics in training design or learning facilitation has become antiquated. Timeline gives us another tool to support this. Timeline provides insights into the personality and drive of our learners. What do they like? What media do they use? Who do they connect with? What is their sentiment? What are their experiences? These questions, along with others, can enable deeper connection between learners and to the content you are trying to deliver.

Open Graph

The second feature Facebook introduced is Open Graph. Zuckerberg proclaimed in his keynote that Open Graph’s purpose, “Is to connect you to anything you want in any way you want.” This isn’t something you will click on to access. It is a guiding principle that integrates as much of life as possible into one social aggregate, Facebook. Open Graph has three objectives to strengthen social connections:

  • Frictionless Activity — This is Facebook’s design for streamlining and removing barriers for the users to share activity or events on their timeline. For example, if you post a picture, it goes on your timeline.
  • Real-Time Serendipity — Users can now share experiences with other users in real-time. If you are listening to a song, your friends can join in. (One example of this is the new Ticker, shown in Figure 2.) Verbs such as watching, listening, jogging, cooking, etc. will also represent this. This is new to the language Facebook currently uses.
  • Finding Patterns — Facebook’s social algorithm, and our social patterns, can potentially forecast what we find most interesting and even what and who we want to connect to.

These principles should be at the core of every LMS vendor who claims to be social. If an organization were to adapt similar social principles, it could facilitate team cohesion and workflow, and understand sentiment. As a buyer of social LMSs, you should demand this of the vendor.

social learning

Figure 2. The new Ticker applies Facebook’s Real-Time Serendipity.

social learning




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Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

social learning, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC