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Digital Learning Is Right for the Army

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AUSA
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The future of Army leader development on social media is now. Evidence? A panel discussion at this week’s Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition was as interactive as technology allows, as it went out live on Facebook and was joined by dozens of posts from individuals as far away as Europe.

The panel—retired Col. Jim Greer, educator and author; Capt. Doug Meyer, creator of “Hay in the Barn Leader”; professor Rebecca Johnson, Marine Corps University—and moderator Maj. Joe Byerly convincingly pitched the notion that in terms of the domain of individual and leader education, social media is an answer the Army—indeed the military—has been longing for and is making work. The presentation was followed by a Q&A and the session culminated with a hands-on workshop designed to allay social media fears among attendees.

 “We learn where we live,” said Greer, holding his smart phone aloft. What social media offers, he explained, is “connected learning” that is “available, tailorable, portable, exportable, scalable and relevant [and] allows an individual to connect, curate, create and share … in semi-structured self-development.”

Byerly, editor and creator of the website “From the Green Notebook” https://fromthegreennotebook.com, concurred. His website has more than 9,000 followers. Before social media, he said, we were limited to individuals with whom we came in contact with to learn and develop oneself.

Meyer, an active-duty infantry officer, directed the discussion to the company level and the individual soldier and junior leaders. Noting that while one “can’t mission command on Twitter,” he likened the social media platform to “creating a buffet and letting individuals pick and choose. It’s an extension of your personal brand,” Meyer said, “which can be both an extent or a drawback.” Spinning off of Meyer’s comment, panelists offered a number of concerns and challenges, not the least of which, particularly in the military, is the governmental bureaucracy in terms of purchasing power, according to Johnson.

Larry Moffi