One of the ways we learn is by observing and interacting with others. There are many types of social learning opportunities, let’s look at a few that I am fond of:
Twitter Chats: There are so many great chats to be found on Twitter, covering a vast range of topics. In general, chats are set up in a question and answer format, where a host asks a question, usually prefaced with Q1, Q2, etc. Then everyone participating can chime in with their answers, usually prefaced with A1, A2, etc. Often further discussions branch off based on people’s answers. If you regularly attend the same chat (often they are held weekly) you will start to see familiar faces and get to know your fellow chatters. If you can’t participate live you can always read the tweets at a later date, and some moderators put together a summary or recap, using Storify or other platforms. A few chats that I enjoy are the Power Of Connection chat #PoCchat, #NextChat, and #HBRogue. You can stumble upon chats organically if you see people you follow participating in them, or you can search out chats using a list, such as this Twitter Chat Schedule. You will probably want to use a tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite to monitor the hashtag as high volume chats can be a bit tricky to follow, especially the first time or so.
Facebook Groups: Facebook Groups are another way to learn about various topics and participate in discussions around them. Some groups are more free-form, with many people contributing conversation starters. Others have one or more moderators who post most of the content. I’ve also participated in groups that revolved around other events, such as Facebook Live broadcasts, webinars, or physical or virtual conferences. The Group then acted as a place for people to discuss that event. While many Twitter chats tend to be high volume for a bit and then quiet until the next chat, some Facebook Groups can be moderately active throughout the week.
Local Meetups/Conferences/Workshops/Virtual Events: Sometimes the best opportunities come when we gather (physically or virtually) around a particular topic for an extended time. Look for events that interest you in trade magazines/websites, online discussions, or through professional organizations. Getting together with people all interested in the same topic can help build connections and open the door to more opportunities. Although schedules and budgets usually make attending these events less frequent, they are worth the investment. Take the time to find at least one big event you’d like to go to and then make it a goal to attend in the next year or so.
College/University: Going back to school is the biggest commitment both in time and expense. However, if the program is set up well you will have many opportunities to engage in social learning, through group work, class discussions, and discussions held with classmates outside of class. These opportunities help reinforce the lessons learned in your courses.