Ahead of the Curve?

New Research From San Diego State Shows That Social Networking As An E-Learning Tool Has A Way To Go

I see lots of tomorrow,” says Dr. Allison Rossett of San Diego State University. The key word is “tomorrow.”

In her originalWeb-based research earlier this year, she asked voluntary participants the question: “Are you doing any of these in your organization?”Mobile learning — along with Second Life/virtual worlds and virtual classrooms — were the bottom three practices.

Rossett is a professor of educational technology at San Diego State University. She has written four award-winning books on training and performance. Her survey garnered 963 responses, 13 percent from academia and 87 percent from corporate/government.

Lack of funding was the most often-cited barrier to implementing some of the newest learning initiatives. Also high on the list were the problem of moving people to learn in new ways and the lack of efficient technology.

“Our problems are less in what to make than in how to make it matter,” Rossett told visitors to an elearning symposium at George Mason University last month. “Definitions are also an issue, but what’s most critical is involving management and supervisors.”

From a design standpoint, she thinks that most designers are risk-averse, so they tend to add to existing e-learning programs rather than completely supplant them. “We need to risk ourselves,” she says, “This is a risky business.”

Perhaps the most meaningful observation that can be gleaned from her research is  that personalization is far and away more important than social strategies. When asked their top aspirations, respondents listed “personalized learning,” “problem solving and knowledge construction,” “measurement for progress and improvement” and “mobile training and support.”

“Everybody’s expectations are going in a different direction,” she noted.

Our own research agrees that social learning has “lots of tomorrow,” but that it is still relatively young. One of the conclusions we reach is that, while enterprises are adopting collaboration technologies and online communities at a high rate, social networks are closing the gap quickly.

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—Jerry Roche
Editorial director

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