I am "Linked In," but I do not consider myself a power user. In fact, it took a while for me to see much value in it. However, The more I add to my profile and make connections, the more it grows on me. Please note, I use it judiciously, adding only professional information and only make connections to people with whom I have worked, studied, networked or have a common professional interest. That said, I have encouraged members of my training department to get "linked in." When I started to evangelize Linked In, I talked about the benefits from the top of my head, some of which is speculative, which I noted. So, here is what I told my colleagues on why we should get "linked in" and how it may benefit our department and our training participants.
How it will help our team:
- Interconnect our networks - increase our our ability to identify each others' individual resources (network connections). These connections may be internal or external to our own organization. Either way, we could all tap into, and benefit from, this larger network.
- Better identify each others' skills and certifications. Although we are a tight and communicative group, there are skills and knowledge we each possess that we may not have fully inventoried and used to the benefit of the larger group.
- Simply learn more about each other, strengthening the cohesiveness of our team. It's amazing what one can learn from reading a person's profile, including their network and the groups in which they belong. Of course we must be cognisant that others are viewing our profiles. Personal information you do not wish to share with co-workers needs to reside somewhere else. Try Facebook or My Space for your "TMI."
Here is how it will help our training endeavours:
- Know your audience! Right? Although measuring for prior knowledge must still occur in the classroom, having participants linked in could improve this event.
- Measuring for prior knowledge is a bit different in e-learning. It can be done in a synchronous event. For an asynchronous event, it must be done in a self directed environment and be self-reflective. Back to Linked In, the e-learning designer can use Linked In to know their audience in conjunction with the needs analysis conducted prior to the design stage.
- Participants should also know their trainer/facilitator. How much are we really able to share during our classroom introduction? With Linked In, participants can connect and learn much more about the trainer, increasing confidence in their trainer and better understanding the trainer's perspective and expectations.
- If participants get "Linked In," this can happen with the encouragement of trainers and e-learning designers, increased networking can domino throughout the organization.
- If participants AND Trainers get "Linked In," increased communication can occur between the two during and after training. The increase after training can include coaching, training evaluation, and updates to content. All of which are advantageous to both classroom training and e-learning.
My conclusion, if trainers and participants are active in a networking site (Linked In or a compatible site) it can benefit the training team, their learning events, and the training participants.
FYI: My Linked In profile - http://www.linkedin.com/in/minutebio