Organizations the world over acknowledge the importance of fostering collaboration among employees. This article outlines how can you integrate the social learning strategy to maximize the impact of your corporate training.
Social learning is intrinsic to all of us and all of us learn through collaboration, observation, and interactions with others. It can be defined as learning with and from others. From the discussions that we have with each other in the cafeteria to the more sophisticated interactions on social media and blogs, we all engage in some form of social learning or other in our daily life.
The idea of collaboration and social interactions has always led to positive outcomes and higher impact. No wonder social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like have a ubiquitous presence today.
When applied in corporate trainings, social learning can work wonders for you as a learning strategy. There’s more to social learning than just bringing in social media elements such as comments, posts, instant messaging, group discussion boards, wikis, video chats, and so on in your corporate trainings.
To be meaningful, it needs creating a semi-structured approach to foster collaboration among learners. This can be done through virtual communities that can serve as a platform for them to share knowledge and ideas besides encouraging them to contribute with more inputs to your existing knowledge repository.
There are no two ways about the fact that the concept of social learning works. While the success of various social media platforms today is proof enough, I would like to substantiate this further with the help of two theories.
NOTE: To integrate social learning effectively into your learning strategy, we should use cues from these two theories. In the case study (featured at the end of the article), you will see how we have integrated many of these aspects to create an effective social learning platform.
Social learning theory: According to Wikipedia, the social learning theory “is a theory of learning and social behavior which proposes that new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others. It states that learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement”.
Bandura and Walters, the key proponents of this theory observed that:
Active Learning: Simply put, the active learning theory is all about getting learners to involve more directly in the learning process. It started surfacing as a topic of serious discussion after it appeared in a report by Bonwell and Eison published by the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) in 1991. One of many aspects that the report throws light on includes the significance of students playing a more active role in learning (by way of reading, writing, taking part in discussions, solving problems, and so on) as opposed to mere listening.
According to the duo, through active learning, learners get to:
Integrating social learning in your learning strategy has benefits for both learners as well as the business. Social learning can enhance the learning experience and result in a positive outcome both in terms of the success of your learning initiative and a positive ROI.
Let’s see the value it offers to the learners and to the business.
How learning happens: As per the 70/20/10 model for Learning and Development, learners obtain:
It is here that social learning comes in as a key enabling factor for learning as it triggers learning through collaboration with peers on the job and interactions with others.
Social learning empowers learners: Sometimes all it takes is one little tip or a piece of advice from a fellow colleague to help you re-focus on your work or get the job done faster in the workplace. Collaboration and interaction help learners learn better. This way, social learning not just helps learners retain the learning but also helps apply that learning on the job.
Appeals to Millennials: Millennials are poised to take over as the majority of the global workforce in a few years and they are the future of organizations. This generation loves social media and social learning. They use social media more (59%) than others (29%) and are likely to relate to social learning more than people from other generations.
There are advantages for businesses as well, as social learning:
Apart from the 70/20/10 model for Learning and Development, social learning theory, and active learning theory, there are other factors as well that make a great case for integration of social learning in your learning strategy.
Factor for the following steps as you begin the process of integration of social learning into your learning strategy:
Assess the readiness to adopt social learning: This is the crucial strategy point and this assessment needs to nail the readiness of the organization, learners, and how the current training programs are being offered. It makes sense to pick programs that need social interaction and collaboration as pilot programs and build from their success to create a wider net.
Quantify the gain you want to achieve and leverage on early adopters: Very often, social learning will support your primary, formal training. It is vital to identify what gains the approach of social learning would bring to the organization. Continue to focus on the value this would create and you will see the required gains over time.
Some initiatives like Change Management can benefit substantially through it. You can use early adopters of the initiative to share their positive feedback and recommendations to their colleagues, and see the acceptance of the new concept increase.
Use social learning platforms rather than a LMS: Instead of a LMS, opt for specialized platforms that provide better interactions between users and feature capabilities like:
Improve the access to information: Unlike formal training, you can now ensure a speedy update or dissemination of new information.
Provide and take feedback: Use the platform to schedule formal feedback sessions from the learners (what is working, what is not, and what can be done to improve the interactions and collaboration). Also use Analytics to check the progress (or a lack of it) and re-strategize to meet the intended goal.
Some areas that find a better alignment to social learning are:
Are there any success factors that can help entrench social learning effectively into an organization’s learning culture?
Adopting these simple measures will help you see the culture of social learning take roots and grow:
To showcase how you can integrate social learning into your existing corporate training, I now share a case study.
At EI Design, we have a social learning platform that we rolled out with an intention to create a collaborative work environment, help team members interact with each other, create communities of learning and practice, and provide a platform for our employees to receive on-the-job support.
Some of the highlights of this solution are:
The impact: The platform helps our employees to:
You can also take a look at this video to see how this solution works.
I hope this article provides the required insights on social learning and why you should implement the social learning strategy in your corporate trainings. The tips, best practices, and the case study shows you how can you go about it. If you have any specific queries, do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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