Facebook may be perceived as a distraction for online learning audiences. However, there are ways that instructional designers can actually use it to their advantage to create immersive and engaging eLearning experiences. In this article, I’ll share a Facebook guide for eLearning professionals explaining why Facebook is such a powerful eLearning tool. You can also find 6 invaluable tips on how to use Facebook for eLearning, as well as 10 additional tips on how to run successful Facebook groups. Read this guide and follow these tips to integrate the king of social media into your eLearning course design and maximize the effectiveness of your eLearning course.
The Ultimate Facebook Guide for eLearning Professionals
You’ve probably already been using social media as an eLearning platform or following your favorite authoring tools on Facebook, because you realize the role it can play in your social learning strategy. After all, social networks are a great place for interaction, collaboration, and information sharing, which are the cores of social learning. On the other hand, we’ve all found ourselves, at one time or another, perusing the posts on Facebook when we really should have been working or studying. But what if there was a way to turn this addictive social media platform into an amazing eLearning resource? Whether the use of Facebook may be beneficial for your audience or not is for you to determine. But if you decide to integrate Facebook into your eLearning course design, you should be active and have certain things in mind. In this article, I'll share a Facebook guide for eLearning professionals, so that you can be sure of how to use the most powerful social network of all time for the benefit of your learners.
Why Facebook Is Such a Powerful eLearning Tool
1. It reaches learners in a familiar environment.One of the best things about Facebook is that there isn’t much of a learning curve involved. A vast majority of learners already know how to use Facebook and have a profile set up. It's a natural online environment for them, thanks to the fact that this social media site is so popular. Rather than asking your learners to sign up for a different, lesser-known networking site or engaging them solely through the eLearning course platform, you can reach out to them via a social network they are already familiar with. You can immediately provide them with links or relevant posts that can make their eLearning experience even more beneficial.
2. It attracts new learners.Facebook is, inherently, a networking platform that thrives on social interactions. When learners are going to attend one of your upcoming eLearning events, for example, RSVP invitations can be sent via Facebook to others in their network that can automatically be notified about the eLearning event too. As a result, you can reach out to new learners even without actively doing so. You can also create groups that attract like-minded individuals who are already interested in the subject matter, making it more likely that they will enroll in your eLearning course or attend your webinar.
3. It’s user-friendly.Facebook is one of the most simple and straightforward social media interfaces. You simply sign up, create a profile, and start contacting friends, colleagues, and learners. However, despite the fact it’s so user-friendly, it doesn’t have a shortage of features. You can organize public or private Facebook groups, create threaded discussions with specific groups, and keep your learners up-to-date quickly and conveniently. There are also Facebook applications and games that can enrich the eLearning experience of your audience. And it’s all free!
6 Tips on How to Use Facebook for eLearning
1. Separate your personal and your professional identity.This is the number 1 Facebook Rule you definitely need to follow. It is not unusual for people to blend their personal and professional lives on Facebook. In fact, it is quite common; people share their personal photos and stories with their colleagues, and they often comment on their friends’ pages about their jobs. Don’t make the same mistake. If there is only one rule you should follow on Facebook, this is that you need to keep separate your personal and your eLearning professional identity and be aware of who sees what posts. While Facebook does not allow you to have multiple personal accounts, you can adjust the privacy levels on each individual post you share. You don’t need to do this because you have something to hide; rather, it sends the message that you are a responsible professional who understands that there is a time and place for everything. No matter how talented and successful you are, a photo of you bungee jumping or of your dog wearing a green hat simply cannot convince your existing or potential partners and clients that you take your job seriously. These photos are better shared with only your real life friends. It may sound unfair, but this is how things work. And if you’re worried that keeping your colleagues and learners out of your personal life will deprive them of the opportunity to enjoy your personality and creativity—don’t worry! You are free to create an eLearning account that can capture your audience’s attention in various ways, for instance via your Facebook cover photo. How do you keep personal and professional separate on Facebook? If you run a freelance eLearning agency, you can create a business Facebook page, like the eLearning Brothers page. If you don’t have your own agency, but still want to use Facebook for eLearning, you can allow people to follow you. When you allow people to follow you, anyone on Facebook can follow you to get your public updates in their News Feed, even if you're not friends on Facebook. A potential new eLearning connection will see this when they visit your Facebook profile for the first time:
You must simply be aware of what group you are sharing your posts to after this—“Public” or “Friends Only.”
2. Encourage group collaboration and discussion via Facebook.Facebook can be a powerful collaboration tool when you develop activities and class assignments that encourage students to work in online groups. Simply ask learners to divide into Facebook groups and assign a leader who will moderate the discussion and keep everything on track. They can work together to complete the assignment, be it a blog or presentation, by posting on each other’s walls, using Facebook Messenger, and sharing resources through Facebook.
3. Provide immediate feedback and resources for your online learners.Thanks to the fact that you can create closed groups, providing immediate feedback for your learners has never been easier. You can help them to correct or positively reinforce learning behaviors to provide them with the best possible educational experience, without having to worry about embarrassing them by posting things in a public forum. You can also share links to articles and videos with your learners conveniently, so that they can instantly learn about resources that can expand their comprehension of the subject matter.
4. Create groups to cultivate different learning communities.Facebook allows you to create a diverse range of learning communities that center on different topics and ideas so that you can share relevant information with specific learners. For example, learners who are enrolled in your customer service course may not necessarily be interested in the same information as learners in your account management course. However, if you create closed groups in Facebook you can directly interact with members of different learning communities in order to provide them with a customized learning experience.
5. Ask students to conduct Facebook research for upcoming assignments.Facebook may often be seen as nothing more than a social networking site, but it’s also a great source of information. Facebook questions and groups gives students the chance to conduct research for upcoming eLearning projects or assignments by interviewing professionals and experts in the field and viewing posts and links that pertain to particular ideas or concepts. For example, a learner enrolled in a nursing course online can speak with experienced nurses or other medical professionals to learn more about a specific topic or when studying for an assessment.
6. Use polls and surveys to fine-tune your eLearning course.Facebook serves as a powerful feedback tool due to the fact that you can create polls and surveys to collect the opinions and insights of your current or potential learners. For instance, if you are considering starting a new eLearning course, you can reach out to your existing network to see if there may be interest in the subject, and get a clear idea of what lessons you may want to include in an eLearning course. Learners can simply “like” the post to let you know if you’re on the right track. Lack of “likes” may indicate you need to rework your plan. This same rule applies to your existing online courses. You can fine-tune your eLearning curriculum by polling your learners and finding out what they like and what they think needs to be changed.
10 Tips for Running Successful eLearning Facebook Groups
A Facebook page is a great way for promoting and branding your eLearning professional identity, as well as sharing eLearning content, multimedia, and news from eLearning websites and blogs with your learners. But creating your own eLearning Facebook group will give you more control over its content, as it can be closed and used for any purpose, from distributing your eLearning courses to creating your eLearning projects. Here are some of the best tips on how to create a successful eLearning group on Facebook:
1. Choose a descriptive name for your Facebook group.When your Facebook group is easy to identify, it can communicate more successfully its purpose.
2. Select an eye-catching group icon.Whether your Facebook group is open or closed, a stylish group icon will make your group stand out.
3. Introduce your Facebook group properly.The description of your Facebook group should be friendly, concise, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) compliant, and should include all the right keywords. This last one will give your Facebook group more visibility.
4. Ask partners, clients, and learners before adding them to your Facebook group.The Facebook netiquette suggests that you should always ask people before adding them to your group. Send polite, personalized invitations, and explain your group’s purpose.
5. Spark interesting conversations.Start commenting on a few topics that you find thought provoking and ask your group members to contribute their personal insights to the online discussion.
6. Encourage interaction, collaboration, and bonding.There is little use for one being on social media if they are not being social. Encourage your Facebook group members to interact with each other and share experiences and tips, as well as collaborate as a team and find solutions to eLearning challenges. This way, they will develop bonds with each other sooner.
8. Encourage eLearning sharing.Whether it is subject matter related content, links to websites and blogs, or eLearning news, ask your Facebook group members to share eLearning information that can spark interesting discussions.
9. Use polls and reviews.Asking of your group members to offer their input about your Facebook group’s operation will offer you both valuable feedback and fresh ideas.
10. Be active.Finally, be there. Managing an eLearning group on Facebook requires investing a considerable amount of your time. Make sure that you are always, or almost always, available to answer questions, follow discussions, and offer interesting eLearning material.
Facebook can transform even the dullest subject matter into interactive and engaging eLearning activities for your online learners, regardless of their age, educational background, or learning goals. It’s versatile and collaborative; the perfect match to enhance the effectiveness of your eLearning course for the benefit of your audience.
Now that you know all the tips that this Facebook guide had to offer, you may be interested in learning how you can use social media to increase the effectiveness and longevity of formal learning. Read the article 10 Tips To Effectively Use Social Media In Formal Learning and find out how to enhance the social aspects of learning through the use of social media.
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