using social media for learningOne of the unintended consequences of blogging and using other social media for me has been the professional learning aspect.

I know more about those things I am charged to teach lawyers about. I am digesting my learning. I am more critical in my thinking. And I am growing a wonderful network of colleagues and mentors who I continually learn from, via the net and in face to face meetings.

I’m with Rodolpho Arruda, manager of online education projects for large multinational companies in Brazil, who shares several reasons why professionals learn through blogging.

  • Blogging organizes and promotes one’s research
  • You get feedback from other professionals
  • Postings reduce the “distance” between professionals
  • Active students can intensify their learning spiral
  • It forces you to do your homework

Beth Kanter, an educator and innovative in the non-profit world of 32 years, talks about using social media for professional learning in the context of three words: ‘Seek, Sense, and Share.’

Kanter drew her inspiration from Harold Jarche, who helps help organizations learn, work, and innovate in the network era. In his piece discussing networked learning in the digital age, Jarche synthesizes the concept of working smarter though networks into these three words. Professionals learn through social media Kanters take with my thoughts:

  • Seek: Seeking is the process of keeping up to date in your field. I use social media (RSS Reader, Flipboard, Zite, Twitter, Facebook, and news apps ala the NYT) to stay up to speed on news, insight, and commentary from trusted and reliable sources.
  • Sense: Sensing is making sense of the information. This, as Kanter puts it, is building time in for reflection and putting what I find out into practice. I do this by synthesizing the information, processing it, sharing it in a critical fashion on social networks, and in some cases blogging about it. I’ve found blogging to be the best way I can learn something as it involves teaching others.
  • Share: This is the process of exchanging what one finds, resources, ideas and experiences with our networks and collaborating with our colleagues. By sharing I connect with people smarter than I from whom I can learn from via social networks, phone calls, emails, and high quality face to face meetings. I had mentors when I practiced law, many of the relationships nurtured by long distance travel. I now have mentorships nurtured and built online, many of which are with people who would have otherwise been far outside my reach – geographic and gravitas wise.

Have you found blogging and the use of social media a helpful tool for learning? A tool that has allowed you to hone your skills so as to be a better lawyer? A tool from which to build relationships with people whom you call upon as a practicing lawyer in order to better serve your clients?

I’d welcome your thoughts in comments here.

I am speaking to the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers later this week on both professional learning and professional development through social media. I’d welcome sharing others input and feedback.