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Is social media changing the way we learn?

I no longer watch “normal” TV anymore. With the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer etc. I’m spoilt for choice from boxsets to films and documentaries. I don’t have to wait for a specific day and time to catch the latest programs, instead, I can watch them when I want to.

However, along with the rise of convenient home entertainment, comes the popularity of social media which is now very much part of my everyday life (whether that’s healthy or not is a different question). So, when I am watching what I want, when I want, I am also scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. and I often find myself pausing or rewinding, as I’m simply not paying enough attention. I am sure I am not alone in this and have often thought whether it means our attention spans are getting shorter or we’re just getting used to consuming entertainment, knowledge and information in a different way.

If I think back to when I was a kid, you had to have the right day, time and channel to watch a program. There wasn’t lots of other distractions, like social media, and you couldn’t pause and rewind live TV. Therefore, if you wanted to watch it, you had to pay attention. Now, I don’t even have to watch “normal” TV and I can still catch the same programs as everyone else, but when I want to, in a style I want to – whether it’s half on the commute into work and half on the way back.

If it’s not our attention spans, but it’s us just getting used to consuming information in a different way. This needs to be replicated in the workplace, when it comes to communicating and learning for our people. Platforms which are clunky and can only be accessed while at work, with lengthy documents, SCORM courses and videos, aren’t the way forward. Instead, platforms which can be accessed online, with an app and contain bite-sized content is.

Having a good platform and easily consumable content are crucial for learning to be successful within a business, however, there are other elements which we need to consider. Simply adding content to a platform won’t work. There needs to be constant flow of content, otherwise people will stop using it unless they are told to. This can be done in a number of ways, central teams, knowledge experts and colleagues can all create engaging content to enable collaboration and create a reason to come back to the platform. Think about why you go on social media, it’s to see the latest updates, pictures, videos etc. from your friends. If the updates, pictures and videos you were viewing were all the same, you wouldn’t log in everyday…

At The Learning Effect, we strongly believe that learning should be consumer grade. If you do too, please get in touch!

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