How I use social media to learn

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A couple of comments to me this week are prompting this post. Someone in my senior management made a comment that I am very active in social media but I don’t really use it to learn. And someone on twitter asked me the question about EMC|ONE, (EMC’s internal social media site):

Here was my answer to that question:

But both of these questions got me thinking about my personal learning environment. Social media plays a huge role in how I learn these days. I’ve been comparing the way I use social media for learning to fishing. Let me explain what I mean.

Its like fishing

There are a few areas for which I am always looking for information:

  • Education (for school and work)
  • Management software, networking, SANs, etc (for work)
  • Autism in adults (personal reasons)

I put out a line to lots of different places, hoping to get a nibble. If I have a project that creates a need to search for information on one of these topics, I just follow the line and look at all the information that has been gathered.

But sometimes there will be lots of activity on the line, so I will go and check on it to see what is going on in that space.

Here are the social media places I look for info:


I use Newsgator for my RSS aggregator. I follow lots of EMC folks, and lots of people who blog about our industry. I follow lots of edubloggers. I also follow lots of autism and Aspie bloggers.

I try to go check on this line at least once a week. But if I get busy, sometimes I forget to check the line.


I use Tweetdeck to organize twitter. I follow a lot of folks, and I have them separated into groups like “work” and “edu”. I also have search columns for specific topics, and that is usually related to what is going on for that day. For instance, if there is a conference, I will have a conference tag column. If it is Thursday or Friday, I will have a #lrnchat column.

I can pay attention to tweetdeck more often than I do newsgator. Sometimes I will notice the people I am following are all talking about the same thing, or using the same tag. If I notice that, I’ll try and figure out what has captured everyone’s attention.

I also seem to come across information I need much quicker using my twitter network.

My Blog

I’ve written before about how I use my blog as reflective practice on what I am learning. I also learn quite a bit from the people who take the time to comment on my posts, or to link back to me.


At EMC we have an internal social media site known as EMC|ONE. It rides on the Clearspace platform. One way to manage the experience with Clearspace is to receive email notifications for the different spaces. There are several technical communities I follow. I don’t always interact in the community – sometimes I just watch for activity on the line that would either impact or help my course development efforts. I most always share those tidbits with the folks on my team.

I am sure there are other ways I use social media to learn. I didn’t even mention Facebook, IM, diigo, meebo, or delicious.

The point is that these tools help me keep an eye on the subjects I am interested in, even if these subjects change very rapidly. My goal is to find a way to make this way of learning easy for everyone else.

How about you – do you use social media to learn?

4 Responses to How I use social media to learn

  1. Paul Zonfrillo says:

    I am a hands on learner. I have started to use social networks to expand my circle of friends that have a common interest. Then I will tend to contact them one on one. It doesn’t scale the way your method does. I have done this more for my non professional pursits, but that is changing. I use facebook and some emc one. Twitter is next.

  2. Wendy says:

    I definitely use my network to learn.

    I wonder if the issue here is that organizations want something they can “control” / make people use in a pre-determined way.

    Sounds like your use of social media (and mine too) is very self-directed. We scan and look for particular things. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have my management telling me I have to do this or what to look for.

    Maybe the key here is to find ways to encourage people to learn on their own. No matter what that looks like.

    Love your blog BTW!

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  4. Helena Starc says:

    Responding to using Social Media to learn, we (of the EMC Community Network team @ EMC, aka ECN) are finding much to learn from customers, partners, & employees who post questions, share answers & best practices, collaborate on new product ideas, and network across the ECN ( Thus far, this foray into “social media” has resulted in initially great reception, albeit with some pleasant surprise at the open and candid conversations are now available.

    Very interested to hear if others learn better from the recognized leaders/instructors, or their peers, in their areas of study, as I found at least as much value in the latter during grad school and professionally…

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