As I was driving down the road the other day, I was thinking about the future of instruction design, especially as it relates to informal and social learning. So as soon as I got to my destination, I threw this post together as a working document. Many people taut themselves as experts in social media, so how can an interviewer really know whether the person they are interviewing is truly an advocate of informal and social learning? They can speak social media but can they design towards social and informal learning?
After the introductory questions and answers like “How’s the weather?” or whatnot, why not dive right into the deep questions?
Personally, my objectives in the interview are to determine the following:
- Do they have a working knowledge of social media sites beyond social networking?
- Do they have personal experience with a wide variety of social media sites?
- Can they identify and explain what are some types of social media sites?
- Do they know who the leaders are in the field of social and/or informal learning?
- To what degree are they ready to begin designing courses with social and/or informal learning in mind?
Here are a series of questions that I have thrown together that I would ask a potential new hire to determine their informal or social learning instructional designing readiness.
- Please name a few different types of social media or web 2.0 and what purpose(s) they serve.
- Here I am looking for them to be able to articulate beyond social networking but to include things like blogging, micro-blogging, social bookmarking, video sharing, picture sharing, web conferencing, etc.
- Besides being able to tell me the various types, I want to determine whether they have a working knowledge of those types by asking follow up questions like, “What is your favorite social bookmarking site and why? What is your favorite micro-blogging site and why?”
- If I really want to determine their gaps, I would have an exhaustive list of various social media sites and just go through them asking them the following: Please let me know how familiar you are with the following social media sites on a scale of 0-10, 0 being, I haven’t ever heard of that site and 10 being I am extensively active on this site. I would also add in a few ad hoc names of a few sites (like techbuzz.com) to see if they are lying.
- Please name three advocates of informal and/or social learning and tell me how each one has impacted your thinking regarding informal and/or social learning.
- Personally, I would be looking for the following names: Jay Cross, Marcia Conner, Tony Bingham, Dave Wilkinson, Kevin Jones, Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Clark Quinn, and Jon Husband. While this list is not a complete all-inclusive list, one of these names should come up.
- One possible very basic follow up question is, “How much of learning is informal?”
- What blogs or websites do you frequent the most and why?
- First, if the person rattles off a list of various social media sites, this really doesn’t tell you anything. It may only mean that they are a social person. However, digging into why they frequent those sites will be quite insightful. Or simply asking, “For what business purpose(s) do those sites have?”
- Second, I am really looking to see if they are current on what is being discussed in regards to social learning. If they are active on Twitter, I want to hear something regarding #lrnchat. If they are active in LinkedIn, they I want to hear about the various groups on LinkedIn and how they are effectively utilized.
- Third, I also want to see if they use a Reader like Google Reader to aggregate their various feeds.
- Fourth, the list, while important, is not as important as their interaction on those sites via comments or retweets, etc.
- Do you have a personal social media policy? If so, what is it?
- While there are many who have had a personal social media policy only to let it dissolve, there are some who haven’t even considered it. If your company is policy-laden or heavily policy-oriented, then this question will reveal more of a cultural fit.
- Possible follow-up questions are: If not, which social media sites do you follow and for what purpose(s)?
- If you were to design a course, say on Procrastination, how would you design it?
- If they question the analysis stage (because they may think this is an ADDIE question), simply inform them that the analysis determined that the company needed to train leadership on how to deal with procrastination personally and with those whom they supervise to improve productivity.
- If they ask questions regarding the SME, simply inform them that only one SME has been identified. Here I am looking to see if they incorporate social media to find other potential SMEs.
- The main goal of this question is to see whether they are already thinking outside the box incorporating some social learning activities/event.
- Do you have your own website or blog? Why or why not?
- Personally, I can care less what they are blogging about; however, it doesn’t hurt to ask what they blog/write about?
- After hearing their purpose, my questions would center around time and frequency and consistency.
- What is the difference, if any, between social learning and informal learning?
- To me this is an important question. Because I see so many people use informal learning and social learning interchangeably, I am looking to see if the candidate can determine and articulate the difference between these two types of learning.
- My definition of informal learning is semi-structured, learner-initiated, ad hoc acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, values, or skills resulting in the ability to do something that was previously unknown.
- My definition of social learning is simply the gaining of knowledge, insight, or a skill through one’s interactions with others (typically three or more) and their knowledge, expertise, and skill.
- If someone objected to the use of social media at work saying that it was a time waster, what would you say?
- There are several objections that you can use. The top three that I hear most often are: (1) Time waster, (2) Control of information & accuracy, and (3) Accuracy & people posting anything. For a good list, see Kevin Jones’s list at EngagedLearning.net or his and Dave Wilkins’s SlideShare presentation.
- Besides their ability to think on the spot and problem solve, this really looks inside their head and their ability to articulate the faultiness of the objection as well as the benefit(s) of social media at work.
This list is by no means an exhaustive or complete list of questions. Other questions that would vary from organization to organization would include questions around tools that you may already have. For example, if your organization has no social tools per se, but has Sharepoint, I would ask some questions around Sharepoint and social learning (though obviously not ideal). However, if your organization has Jive, then my questions would revolve around Jive. However, if the person is ignorant of these Business software solutions, that isn’t deterrent. What is deterrent would be a lack of knowledge around what constitutes as blogging or podcasting, not that they don’t know how to use Sharepoint to blog or Jive.
Some more advanced questions would be regarding social learning strategy and approach and methods of social learning. For example, if the organization needs a more codified approach to social learning, what does that look like? Likewise, if an organization needs a more emergent approach to social learning, what does that look like. And finally, what does it look like to simply take a collaborative approach to social learning?
And finally depending on the person’s potential role or the size of the organization, I would ask questions regarding the use of social learning for the extended enterprise, such as external audiences like vendors, customers, etc, or community management.
So what other questions would you add?