Questions about social media education and training often result in passionate discussions about the relative value of formal and informal learning when it comes to acquiring the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for effective digital engagement. Most of the participants in these discussions are early adopters who have successfully bootstrapped their own education and therefore believe that “learning by doing” is the right approach. My latest blog post revisits the question in an effort to gather current perspectives on the issue, not just from early adopters but also from folks who have just started climbing their own learning curves.
About a year ago I observed and participated in a number of debates regarding the best way for people to acquire knowledge about and develop skills related to using social media (see this post for links to some of them). Many people argued (often vociferously) that learning from experience was not just the best way to learn, it was the only way to learn – and they rejected the notion that social media skills and abilities can be developed through training. A number of people also asserted that credentials such as social media certificates are useless, and that the offerings behind them are generally worthless.
Earlier in 2011 I had done extensive benchmarking to identify current offerings in social media education and training while I was developing a social media and online communities specialization for a Master’s degree program in communication (see this post for details). There wasn’t much out there then, and not much seems to have changed in the fifteen months since. Lately, however, I’m seeing more buzz about formal offerings, and I’ve learned about two companies – one a well-established business media company, the other a technology start-up – who are making social media training a core service offering. Are we seeing a shift…?
In my latest blog post I share my updated perspective on the value of a formal approach to developing and increasing not just social media expertise, but digital sophistication more broadly. I invite others to share their points of view as well, and to engage in dialogue and healthy debate.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD