Topic 3: Using Technology and Social Media in Human Resource and Workforce Development (HRWD)


As technology and social media have become essential to communication and collaboration among workers, Topic 3 provides scenarios that ask students to explore barriers that can occur when not all workers understand or feel comfortable using technology an social media. The rapid changes that occur with technology require HRWD professionals to remain diligent in their commitment to understanding both the effect and use of technology on people.

Scenario 1: Age Discrimination and Technology

The average age of employees in your division of the organization is 50. These employees have had limited use of any kind of technology or social media both at home and in the workplace. You are located in a rural community that has limited access to consistent, Internet service. You have designed training for them that includes examples about negative social media usage. As the training progresses, participants begin informing you that they have never used a computer outside of the workplace. They do not own a home computer and their telephone is not a smartphone; it is a flip phone. Despite holding this training in the computer lab, employees are having trouble accessing the Internet. They have never heard of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu, or the myriad other social media platforms. They absolutely do not know what an emoji is.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you engage these participants without mentioning their age?
  2. How do you change the session focus without offending participants?

Scenario 2: Social Class and the Digital Divide

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home. Across the world employees had little time to adjust. There has always been a digital divide between rural communities and urban areas regarding access to broadband Internet services. There is also a digital divide based on socio-economic status. Black families have the least access to broadband both in rural and urban communities. As human resource development and workforce development professionals seek to help workers facing the digital divide, they encounter many barriers. The majority of the activities require that they also work from home, so they do not have the resources to all of the technologies that they need either. Their Internet speed in many homes are slower than in the workplace and workers cannot apply for new jobs. Most of the required forms are no longer available in paper copies; therefore, more time is spent on the telephone to try and assist workers as opposed to virtual computing.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How will workplaces sustain the careers of workers whose only limitation is access to broadband Internet?
  2. How do HRWD professionals adjust their ability to use technology from home to meet the needs of workers?
  3. What can be done to bridge the digital divide in Black communities?

Supplemental Readings

Benson, V., Morgan, S., & Filippaios, F. (2013). Social career management: Social media and employability skills gap. Computers in Human Behavior. 2013, 1-6.

Delello, J. A., McWhorter, R. R., & Camp, K. M. (2015). Using social media as a tool for learning: A multi-disciplinary study. International Journal on E-learning, 14(2), 163-180.

Hughes, C. (2010). “People as technology” conceptual model: Toward a new value creation paradigm for strategic human resource development. Human Resource Development Review, 9(1), 48-71.

Hughes, C. (2011, April). The five values of people and technology development: Introducing the value creation model for organizational competitive advantage framework. In American Institute of Higher Education 6th International Conference Proceedings,4(1), 180-189.

Maloni, M., Hiatt, M. S., & Campbell, S. (2019). Understanding the work values of Gen Z business students. The International Journal of Management Education, 17(3), 100320.

Oh, E. G., & Huang, W. H. D. (2018). A review of technology research in HRD from a design-based research perspective. Human Resource Development Review, 17(3), 258-276.

Osborn, D. S. & LoFrisco, B. M. (2012), How do career centers use social networking sites? The Career Development Quarterly, 60, 263–272.

Roberts, G., & Sambrook, S. (2014). Social networking and HRD. Human Resource Development International, 17(5), 577-587.

Sampson, J. P., Osborn, D. S., Kettunen, J., Hou, P. C., Miller, A. K., & Makela, J. P. (2018). The validity of social media–based career information. The Career Development Quarterly, 66(2), 121-134.

Shea, K., & Wesley, J. (2006). How social networking sites affect students, career services, and employers. NACE Journal. 66(4). 26-32.

Thomas, K. J., & Akdere, M. (2013). Social media as collaborative media in workplace learning. Human Resource Development Review, 12(3), 329-344.

Turner, J. R., Morris, M., & Atamenwan, I. (2019). A theoretical literature review on adaptive structuration theory as its relevance to human resource development. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 21(3), 289-302.

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