Social media is an integrated part of today’s society. Billions of users around the world are present on at least one social media profile where they engage in communication with other users and gain information. Social media enables direct communication in a digital environment where more and more people are present.
I have my personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts but at the same time I am responsible for the CEF’s digital communication that includes these and also other social media profiles. I have experienced that being present online offers an organization such as ours a wider network of contacts and two-way communication with learners who are interested in the same learning topic and are willing to share similar learning experience.
As Soren Gordhamer emphasizes, our networks are much larger in the era of social media than they have ever been, and we have more ways to communicate. Even if people are not very active on Facebook or Twitter, there is a high probability that their sphere of communication has expanded significantly in recent years. Who and how is communicating has changed radically.
We at the CEF are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Storify) for learning purposes, and also to increase the visibility of our beneficiaries and partners. My colleague Tina Žagar already wrote about how social media can be leveraged for learning and how the users of these channels get engaged, contributing to formal or informal learning. Digital storytelling enables us communicating a joint story through different social media channels.
Social media certainly plays an important role in online learning. Online learning providers are obliged by the very nature of their courses to keep pace with any trends and technological advances which promote communication with learners and enhance the learning experience.
Learning management systems (LMSs), among others Moodle, Docebo and Blackboard, have become popular in the learning environment in recent years as a means to distribute learning materials and upload course assignments and enable direct communication among learners, lecturers and facilitators. Both platforms allow for integration with social media usage, accounting growing smartphone activity.
Social media can enable direct communication in a learning community. For example, Facebook is known as a place to post status updates, announcements, photos, and videos, which stimulates learners’ attention. Therefore, answering learners’ questions and posting clarifying information to content makes learning fun.
Since learners often learn from others, having learners share their questions, insights, or experiences with a topic can expand learning for others. In short, it extends classroom discussion beyond the classroom, and digital storytelling provides a good example here.
Social media therefore enables two-way communication which goes beyond mere information receiving through traditional communication tools to active discussion with learners on a joint learning journey.
 BBC Active. 2010. How social media is changing education. Available at: http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/Howsocialmediaischangingeducation.aspx;
 Edudemic. 2015. How to Use Social Media as a Learning Tool. Available at: http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-social-media-as-a-learning-tool-in-the-classroom/;
 Norman, Stephanie. 2016. 5 Ultimate Tricks Of Using Social Media As Learning Tools. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/5-ultimate-tricks-using-social-media-learning-tools;
 Ritter, Megan. 2014. How to Communicate Effectively on Social Media for Ecommerce Success. Available at: http://www.pagemodo.com/blog/how-to-communicate-effectively-on-social-media-for-ecommerce-success/.