Learning has changed
The authors suggest a “new species of learner that we call the ‘Social Cyborg.'”
Who are the social cyborgs? They are often young and have “integrated social networks and information technology into the way they think, learn, and solve problems.” The authors compare the extinction of the Neanderthal in the face of climate change and competition with the new species, homo sapiens, to what might happen today to those of us who don’t adapt.
Social cyborgs function differently from those who aren’t part of the new, connected world. They learn differently, solving problems by connecting to social networks. They filter information through “open knowledge systems” such as Wikipedia and user-created content.
Meet your new audience!
Does this concept affect presentations? You bet! Those social cyborgs are your new audience. And the traditional presentation as we know it is coming to an end.
For those of you who present to train, the implications are immediately obvious.Your audience learns differently, not content to just sit and passively absorb information.
But what about persuasive presentations? I believe that these presentations are affected just as much. Your audience will make their decisions more collaboratively than before, depending less on your presentation alone.
Blogs, wikis, discussion groups, and buyer reviews have accustomed people to create their own content and rely on the user-created content of others. They may feel that this content is even more authoritative than you, the presenter!
For training, the authors suggest the following:
- Use social learning technologies, such as online mentoring systems and collaborative learning platforms that encourage learners to share content. (In fact, a technology that encourages ongoing sharing of knowledge can eliminate the need for some formal learning methods while enhancing productivity.)
- Design training to leverage social and information networks. Target collaborative learning, rather than individual learning.
- Train to catalyze learning rather than to design and deliver content
For presentations, here are my parallel suggestions:
- Use feedback and interactive techniques, such as polls, Twitter hashtags, and even old-fashioned breakout groups
- Design your presentations to be a group experience, rather than a one-to-many experience
- Guide understanding; don’t try to control it. Present to motivate the audience, whether to learn or to act.
Yes, audiences will sometimes just sit and listen to an authoritative, engaging speaker with a great message. But not for long…
What do you think? Leave a comment!