Top 10 Ways Social Media Will Impact Employee Development and Training in 2010

by Renee Robbins on October 29, 2009

Crystal Ball Fortune TellerWith only two months left in the year it is time to make some predictions on how social media will impact your employee development and training in 2010.  As I gaze into my crystal ball I can honestly say that these are the tools that will make the biggest difference for you and your learners. 

1. Microblogging- I am sure you are sick to death of me talking about Twitter, but hopefully this will prompt you to finally open up an account and see what it is all about.  If you aren’t a fan of Twitter there are a few other sites that provide microblogging functionality: Plurk, Tumblr, Jaiku.  Whatever the platform, we will start to leverage microblogging sites to stay in contact with our learners before, during, and after employee development and training programs.  Also, as discussed in How to Inspire Informal Learing by Sharing Conference Insights, we will use microblogging to faciliate informal learning between employees.

2. Text & Voice Messaging- According to Greg Sterling of Internet2Go, 90% of people “never leave home” without their wireless phone.  However most companies aren’t using this device to connect with their employees (even though many pay for it).  Employee development and training programs will use services like Train by Cell to help prepare and send text and/or audio messages to their learners.

3. Networks- The learning industry will officially recognize the third aspect to the Mentoring/Coaching paradigm in employee development and training: Networks.  Gone are the days when an employee could sit in their cubical and shut out the rest of the world.  As the silo walls begin to break down it is important to provide employees with a way to learn who they need to know.  I’m not talking about Facebook, MySpace, or Linked In directly.  Instead I foresee a shift from corporate trainers trying to meet every learning need in a formal setting to working to influence informal learning by aligning people with others that they feel can have a mutually beneficial learning relationship.

4. Forums- I’ve already touched upon how important I think forums are for optimizing your employee development and training programs in Using Online Forums in Social Learning.  This is a great platform for employees to answer each other’s questions, provide information on upcoming product launches/updates, and expand their professional learning networks.  But the benefits aren’t just in the learning, forums also help build a sense of community.

5. Blogs- Instead of wasting time with large meetings to provide status updates, corporate learning leaders will lead the charge to use blogs in engaging employees and keeping the conversation fresh. As we know, reinforcement is key and blogs are a fantastic tool to remind your employees about how key learning points relate to their daily work.  A little bit of information at a time helps employees to feel informed and connected.  All major players in your organization should have a blog and employees should be free to choose which ones they follow (with help from your recommendations).

6. Video- This is the year employee development and training programs are going to stop relying on text  and embrace video.   Corporate trainers will incorporate video creation into their employee development and training programs and re-purpose the created content to reinforce learning and engage a larger audience.  This is one of the tools that I am most excited about and can’t wait to dive into!

7.  Webcasting- With the explosion in video use there will be a similar boom in webcasting.  Learners will need a higher level of engagement than just a teleconference and some slides.  They will need to see the instructor, their classmates, and have their classmates see them. Instead of using an avatar to awkwardly roam around a fake place, learners will engage directly with each other, learn more, and build their professional learning networks.

8.  Wiki- Finally we will defeat the challenge of what some of my learning friends have called “the scariest social media tool.”  They fear wikis because, unlike microblogging or forums,  they consider wikis to be inaccurate information that comes across as fact.  I can’t disagree more – especially in a corporate environment.  There have been over 1,000 studies done on Wikipedia’s content and for the most part these studies find it to be a source of very credible information.  In 2010 we will use wikis like never before.  Still not sure what a Wiki is?

9.  Google Wave- This is a new tool that is currently part of a limited release.  After seeing it in action I have to say that the implications for learning are amazing.  Billed as “what email would be like if it was invented today,” Google Wave will allow you to collaborate and engage learners in a way you never thought possible.  For one thing, it will bring a new meaning to “just-in-time” training.  You can expect to hear more from me about how we can use this brand new tool in the corporate learning environment shortly.  In the mean time here’s a great post from Read Write Web on use cases for academia.

10. Smart Phone Applications- Even though my other predictions appear in no specific order, I am putting this one last because it’s the “stretch.”  I believe that mobile applications have so much to offer employee development and training programming but it will be the hardest one to implement. But it’s worth it.  Smart phone applications provide a concentrated and engaging experience for the learner.  I believe mobile applications are the next step in the evolution of employee development and training.

While there are other tools out there, these are the 10 that I feel will make the biggest impact on you in 2010.  How are you going to use them?  I look forward to exploring these tools with you and answering that question together!

Buckle up… it’s going to be a great year!


P.S. I plan to spend a lot of time reviewing the ins and outs of these topics in future posts.  If you have any specific questions or ideas please make sure to add a comment below!

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10 Predictions for How Social Media Will Impact Learning in 2010
November 19, 2009 at 8:11 am
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December 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm
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February 1, 2010 at 10:38 am

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Burns November 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm


This is so timely! I have just started a Social Media Action Task Force for my company, and this information is great. I’m with you Social Media will impact learning and development in a big way in 2010. I look forward to your future posts on the subject.

If you don’t believe in Social Media, you don’t understand it. if you don’t understand it you will be left behind.

Renee Robbins November 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Fantastic! Thanks Julie – hope it helps! I completely agree with your assessment of social media. The tools included in this collective can be used to engage learners in a whole new way. We need to understand these tools better in order to determine how we can best use them to enhance the learner experience.

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