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How software testers can learn together through social media

In this response, expert Pete Walen explains how social networking tools provide an avenue for learning and teamwork that nearly everyone can take advantage of.

How can testers maximize the collaborative opportunities inherent in social media and related tools?

That is an interesting question. Each person is different and will have their own comfort levels for reaching out and communicating with other people. What I normally think of around the idea of “maximizing” social media and collaborative tools boils down to “use them.” 

No two people are the same in their usage of these tools. For me, I tend to look for people I meet at conferences, or whose articles I read and follow their blogs, conversations via Twitter. Then I look to see who they follow, the conversations they engage in and the ideas expressed. That gives me the opportunity to find other people who may be interesting, and from whom I may learn something or gain insights I may not otherwise gain. 

Another benefit of eavesdropping on conversations amongst the “great ones” is that it also gives me the chance to read snippets of conversation on topics I am interested in or about which I am curious. That way, I can look up the ideas or topics they are discussing. I can also look up the sources they are referencing. These sources, combined with their discussions, help me learn massive amounts about subjects I may not have considered and look for way to make use of these ideas and concepts.

Closer to home, or the office anyway, wikis and internal blogs can be great tools for recording ideas and capturing them as they develop. This can also be used as an agent to initiate discussions around testing techniques and approaches and how they can be used with their group or team. 

Anything that can aid communication, including instant messaging and even simple shared network locations, can help testers share ideas. This is the whole purpose of social and collaborative media for professionals, no? Initiating that collaboration, informally, is the starting point for many people. All of these tools are fantastic steps in helping people and teams, to, on their own, work and learn together.

I believe that is the key: learning together.

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