There are many types of seminars and ways to transfer knowledge. Depending on the subject and the training objective, appropriate forms have to be selected. In this blog I would like to inform you about my experience gained with my social media-based online-trainings.
My seminars mainly deal with information about communication technologies and standards, markets and market participants as well as exchange of practical project experience. They typically do not provide skills for the operation or configuration of computers or network elements. My seminars usually do not provide practical exercises on devices.
For me, this resulted in two versions of knowledge transfer in the past:
Version #1: Live Seminars
Live seminars with lecturer in seminar rooms, offered as public events with full catering or corporate training for a selected group of users. This is the traditional form of training that has always been practiced.
The advantages are obvious: comprehensive information about the seminar topics, individual and immediate answers to questions, interactive learning design with direct exchange of experience between the trainer and participants as well as extensive documents.
The sometimes perceived disadvantages: required presence of the participants at predefined times, possibly incurred travelling costs, content and speed of presentation adapted to the majority of the participants, but with the risk of neglecting individual participants.
These are some points that encourage companies to invest more and more in online education.
Version #2: Online-Trainings (Webinars)
Seminars on the Internet (so-called online-trainings or webinars) are offered more and more frequently. The course offer is meanwhile huge, the success however controversial.
In this version, it must be distinguished between a live seminar (with support of voice and possibly video conferencing as well as presentation of content or data sharing) and recorded seminars. Feedback of participants is often provided via live chats.
Advantages of online-trainings: neither the trainer nor the participants have to travel (travel expenses are not incurred), the seminar duration is usually limited to one to two hours (less preparation time, little time spent for trainings) and the number of participants is practically unlimited. While recorded webinars are costly for the first time creating online content, the trainings are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The participant determines the location, time and speed of the training according to his needs.
Challenges of online-trainings: usually the participant does not receive any seminar courseware, answering questions is limited, an in-depth discussion of a topic practically impossible. The motivation to visit the training is not so great and the premature termination rate is very high. Consideration of the needs of individual participants is usually not possible (due to the number of participants in the online training).
The offer of online-trainings ranges from provider-specific platforms to solutions of well-known platform operators, which offer also audio and video conferencing services up to specialized training platforms, which offer online courses of different “content suppliers” free or paid.
Version #3: Online-Trainings via Social Media Channels
This version uses one or several channels of social networks to spread the content. The training content is posted in the form of short news with photos or links to further information. Interested users are the users of these channels.
A special equipment at client side is not required. Anyone using one of these channels can access the content directly in the provider’s timeline or profile. Users ask questions via e.g. Tweets or Direct Messages. The answers can also be sent directly over the same channels.
- Selection of Social Media channels
- Definition of the main topic (in this context: „Mobile Data Services“) und design of courseware (Microsoft PowerPoint)
- Saving of each chapter of the courseware (each single Microsoft PowerPoint slide) as a sequence of images (*.jpg).
- Defining the „best“ posting time. My personal assumption: Readers will actively inform themselves during lunch time (12:00 +/- 1 hour). The target groups are distributed worldwide, The most populous regions have lunch breaks at the following Central European Time (CET): 5:00am, 7:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:00pm.
- Prepare the posts with scheduling tool
- Automatic postings at above mentioned times via following accounts:
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RonaldSchlager
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronaldschlager/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1639268936309770/
- Google+: https://plus.google.com/105060090473883354764
- Monitoring of user activities, ongoing communication with users
Advantages of social media channels: no costs for prospective customers, questions and discussions via the same social network channel, feedback via likes, extremely high reach, low effort (except content creation), additional distribution of content via retweets, acquisition of new prospective customers , increasing level of awareness.
Challenges: very different seminar duration depending on the time of publication of the postings and the number of postings per seminar, seminar must be “discovered”, no experience about dealing with feedback on social channels, readers are people of different cultural circles.
Update of this Blog (14.2.2017)
Timing of the Online Training
The courseware consists of 17 slides. The first slide was published on February 6, 2017:
— Ronald Schlager (@RonaldSchlager) February 6, 2017
Then followed all the other slides, only interrupted by a tweet with the link to this experience report.
— Ronald Schlager (@RonaldSchlager) February 7, 2017
The last slide was published on February 9, 2017
— Ronald Schlager (@RonaldSchlager) February 9, 2017
Activities on social networks and on the website
The online training led to the following activities in the channels:
Most “Organic Impressions” took place on Februar 7, 2017 (1344).
The average number of new followers on Twitter decreased during the days of the online training (to about 5 per day).
Following pinned Tweet was „liked“ and „retweeted“ several times within the next following days:
— Ronald Schlager (@RonaldSchlager) December 28, 2016
Each single slide reached 3 to 4 organic visitors.
On LinkedIn there was a like for the first slide of the online training, but no other activities or new visitors for the following slides.
The German website did not achieve any significant growth in visitor numbers. Google Analytics recognized social network activities were insignificant.
The English website was visited more often and the recommendations in social networks were significantly higher than at other times.
The number of impressions and activities on Twitter was interesting. Reactions in other social networks were virtually nonexistent. Further online training on different topics is required to gain experience.
Do you use online training in your company? What are your experiences? How do you see the use of social networks in general or for trainings in particular?
Links to the topic:
About the Author
Ronald Schlager is independent trainer, consultant, book author and blogger with emphasis in communications technologies and their application.
Image credit: Pixabay.com, artist: Wokandapix