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Is Twitter Effective for New Social Media Users for Work and Personal Learning?

Dr. Tony Karrer is the Chief Technical Officer of TechEmpower and is considered an expert in the field of e-learning.  He has stated that “Twitter is not a tool for people who are new to social media and the use of social media for personal learning and work”.

I tend to agree with Dr Karrer.  As a novice user of Twitter, I often feel bombarded with information and begin to assume that supposed experts in the social media (or any other) field are always correct.  There is almost too much information available and I tend to take these “experts” at face value often without researching their credibility.   Sometimes I am simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume and have not yet learned to filter out what I do not need.

Further, I’m not confident in my Twitter skills and tend to sit and watch the rest of world try to shape my opinions.  While I understand that Twitter is not meant to be interactive, I don’t feel I have the credentials to “tweet” or respond to a comment.  Hopefully, this is something I will learn with time.

Quite often, I have friends who tweet about what they did at school or work, had for dinner, and the latest personal news.  I don’t believe this is the best format in which to share personal details.  While I applaud their learning and use of new social media outlets, it seems most of their activity would be best suited for Facebook. Facebook is more about my own personal community of friends and family and what is happening specifically to them.  While not truly interactive, Facebook is very simple to respond to and make comments.

I do believe Twitter has great potential as an e-learning tool in certain circumstances.  For instance, learners could be coached on this tool and access training when there is minimal information to be conveyed and it is presented in a clear concise format.  Again, learners must be aware of the expectation of when and how they should use Twitter.   If designed for a particular learning group, Twitter could be an effective addition to a trainer’s bag of tricks.  As with any other use of social media, the choice of medium depends on the goals of the writer.  What is it to be communicated to your learner and the expected response?


Hart, J. (2012) Top 100 Tools for Learning.  Center for Learning and Performance Technologies.  Retrieved from:

Karrer, T. September 12, 2012.  Training Magazine Network Now Bringing You eLearning. Learning E-Learning Technology.  Retrieved from:

Kuhlmann, T.  August 4, 2009.  Three Practical Ideas for using Twitter in E-learning.  The Rapid E-Learning Blog.  Retrieved from:


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Corporate University done right!


Vice Chairman and CEO–Elect Doug Oberhelman explains the vision of Caterpillar Corporation:  “Caterpillar will be intensely focused on helping our customers succeed.  We’ll be driving execution in key areas of the business that are critical to customers – quality, production capability and cost.”  Caterpillar’s mission is “to enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that protect people and preserve the planet.”  Integrity, excellence, teamwork, and commitment are the values of Caterpillar.  Corporate goals include workplace safety, protecting the environment by using renewable resources, preventing waste, and designing construction to meet green building criteria.

As you can see, Caterpillar is extremely customer oriented.  Part of Caterpillar’s continued success has been its focus on learning for both internal employees and external customers.  In 2001, Caterpillar University was created.  This training is available to employees, dealers, suppliers and “customers looking for a training and maintenance resource for their equipment”.

Top management at Caterpillar believes customer education provided by Caterpillar University is a vital part of its success.  Caterpillar University totally supports the vision of focusing on the success of customers.  This training provides an excellent resource for their customers,  which in turn enhances relationships with Caterpillar.  It seems that Caterpillar University offers a mutually beneficial solution for the customer and the corporation.


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Rapid Change In Technology and its effect on Human Resource Departments and Me Personally


New advances in IT have made social learning access easily available and easy to use.  No longer does the average media user need to have complex skills to utilize the technology.  As a result, we live in a world constantly barraged with new information and new ways to access this media.  Today’s user is far more concerned with the actual content and less about the technology required to get the information.

The trend in most corporations is to be an active participant in the use of social media . There are several possible reasons.  First, the economic downturn in the past four years has lead corporations to cut budgets especially in areas that don’t contribute directly to ROI.  As a result, Human Resource Development Departments (HRD)have been forced to do more with less.   The old saying ‘necessity is the motherhood of invention” is quite apt in these economic times and simply put, HRDs need to find new ways to meet their training objectives.  Secondly, it is an expectation of a generation who has grown up with Facebook, smart phones, texting,… and is now coming of employment  age.  These future employees want instant information and entertainment now.  They are familiar with changing technology and can quickly adapt.

To maintain a competitive edge, training departments must be able to deliver proactive training in the most cost effective manner.   Through IT advancements, it is easier to communicate and receive feedback from management and employees as to what training is needed.  A training plan today often incorporates webinars, access to modules on a website, internet and intranet usage, info sent to PCs and smart phones, to name a few. This approach using a combination of social media can reach a much wider population, allow learners to work at their on pace, reinforce learning,  and overall can be more effective than traditional classroom methods.

This technology explosion and use of social media will have a profound effect on HRDs.  Trainers must adapt to a new way of developing and delivering programs that are not only consistent with corporate objectives, but require extensive use of social media.  I believe trainers will need to be retrained and adapt to this changing environment if they are to be successful.  While their role will change, there will always be a need for a tech savvy trainer who can quickly develop and provide training that meets goals and uses effective delivery methods for their audience.

The business workplace has changed dramatically in the 17 years I stayed home with my son.  If I want to be competitive and get a job, I must embrace social media quickly and learn to use these new tools.  Social media can no longer be a quick look at Facebook for me; it is a necessity.   I genuinely believe it will be the key to my success.

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I feel I have come lightyears ahead in just 2 classes.  Falling into the category of the  highest new user age group on Facebook, it is absolutely amazing how quickly we can communicate to our target market.  When I left the business world, I was selling applemac comparable equipment for Xerox.  This new technology is exciting and virtually limitless.  In my case, having been out of this technology explosion, I believe learning this new social media can be the difference in finding a job.  Also, it really is fun!

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McCarthy Building ServIces, Inc (MBS) is a construction company based in St Louis, Missouri.  In 2011, MBS was ranked 112 of the top 125 companies rated by Training Magazine which uses criteria based on training and development organizations’ ability “to support business initiatives tactically and help drive strategic  change”. 1   In 2012, Training Magazine rated MBS 10th of 125 organizations.  This is particularly significant for a company in an industry typically not associated with dynamic training.

MBS started as a small lumber business in 1864 by Timothy McCarthy.  He and his ten children grew this business and earned an excellent reputation as a builder of quality products.  By the early 1990’s, MBS had branched out into many different manufacturing industries and was highly successful.

In 2002, the company was sold to employees.  2   Faced with a company wide desire to be successful, MBS “rolled out a new learning program… with a formalized training approach”. 3   From top management down, the company approaches the business with a “proactive approach to training” using various media including learning management systems, Internet, peer group and division training.  4

These efforts have resulted in better equipped employees who make informed choices to do the best thing for the company.  Building construction projects use a “collaborative, multidisciplinary approach” 5.    All team members on a project have been trained to use a “systematic, streamlined approach …emphasizing quality and prevention”.  6   The result is a quality project saving money, resources, and time.

McCarthy Business Systems appears to do things right.  By providing proactive, effective training and including employees in decisions, they are equipped to take actions to ensure their customer gets a quality project every time.   “As a 100% employee owned company, we are dedicated to customer satisfaction. We personally own every issue – not delegate it.”  7

It becomes obvious that McCarthy Business Systems received its rank of 10th because of its proactive attitude including training for every employee and pride in ownership.  To quote Margery Weinstein, “when you develop coursework for your employees, you focus on teaching them what they need to know to keep your company on track to meet its financial goals and keep customers happy while also nurturing their career goals”.  8

1       Training Magazine, January/February 2012

2       McCarthy Business Systems website, The McCarthy Story

3/4/8 Key Differentiators by Margery Weinstein, Training Magazine,

August 18, 2012

5/6    MarketWatch, WSJ  aug 23, 2012