With the increased use of social media in everyday life, it is important to understand how this phenomenon can be leveraged also for learning. Allow us first to share some interesting facts about social media which will further illustrate the potential that social media as the most popular online activity has for learning endeavors.
- 23% of the Facebook users check their account at least five times a day.
- Users send out 58 million tweets per day, with 9,100 happening every second. However, there are 222 million Twitters who just watch other people’s tweets.
- People spend one out of every seven minutes on Facebook when online.
- If social media companies were countries, followed by China, Facebook would be the world’s most populous country with over 1.1 billion users. Google Plus (693 million active users) would be third and Twitter (554 million users) would be fourth. That is ahead both India and the U.S.
- YouTube has over one billion unique visitors per month and reaches the coveted 18–34 year old demographic more than any cable network.
Most social media tools allow for quick and easy sharing of information, experiences and resources, encourage collaboration and in this regard facilitate informal or formal learning. Social media is like a toolbox, containing a number of opportunities that are at users’ disposal who then select the most appropriate ones that will allow them to address and work on a particular challenge. Many organizations are using social media for digital storytelling, social bookmarking, discussions, content co-creation, blogging, file sharing, etc.
At the CEF, for example, we have stepped up the efforts in digital storytelling. We explore ways of using different social media platforms to convey stories in order to further enhance our beneficiaries’ learning experience. We are trailing a new way to tell stories of the created shared memory during our learning events by using the online tool Storify: https://storify.com/CEFSEE.
Storify is a free tool that lets the user tell stories about any topic by using social media. It allows to pull relevant information from multiple sources and archive it at one place. It also lets you add text between the messages, so you can include a running narrative that explains what is happening in the face-to-face session and provide a context for the messages of the story you are compiling.
We use it for real-time reporting from our learning initiatives to capture the highlights of discussions, share relevant materials, videos and research findings on a particular subject matter.
In our experience, such created shared memory makes important lessons learned from the face-to-face learning initiatives more accessible to all interested beneficiaries and a wider audience, not only to the people in classrooms. This helps us extend the reach of knowledge beyond the classroom and increase the visibility of our donor partners and participants and their institutions.
We also use these stories or online reports during our debrief sessions in the beginning or end of a particular learning day, play the embedded videos from the archive and follow links to the resources that relate closely to the subject matters that are at the heart of discussions in that particular day. This helps participants connect the lessons and activities they have been engaged in.
 Costill, Albert. 2013. 25 Insane Social Media Facts. Available at: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/25-insane-social-media-facts/79645/