Although the social learning phenomenon is catching up, many in the learning sphere are not sure of its impact owing to misconceptions around it and lack of data to showcase its impact. This article outlines how you can use social learning effectively to engage your learners.
In simple terms, social learning is learning with and from others and is not bound by a specific type of learning. Social learning could be anything – acquiring knowledge about something when discussing casually with your friends or colleagues, during a conversation with a co-passenger on a flight, or even learning when browsing and interacting with folks on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. So, how can you use social learning?
This kind of learning -triggered by collaboration- is never short of positive impact. The social media phenomenon has revolutionized the way people perceive things and go about their everyday lives. The impact has spilled over to pretty much everything and if it is not leveraged upon for learning, Learning and Development professionals have only themselves to blame.
There are several misconceptions surrounding social learning and I pick a few of them:
Social learning as such is not a new concept. It has been part of our learning mechanism all through and there are several theories to support this claim. The 70/20/10 Model for Learning and Development, social learning theory, and Active Learning theory in particular make a great case for social learning.
You can refer to my article Why You Should Adopt Social Learning to know more about how these theories establish the need to integrate social learning components in corporate training and how social learning can benefit learners and organizations alike.
But if this doesn’t sound convincing enough to consider social learning as part of your learning strategy, you’d want to take a look at these facts and stats:
You can look at social learning through a larger prism – that of a “Learning and Performance Ecosystem“. You can bring in a combination of various kinds of learning, blending formal and informal learning, and supplement your learning with social learning and Performance Support elements. This will provide your learners with more options and ways to learn and experience “learning as a continuum”.
Learners like learning in different ways. Their preferences differ from one another. Providing them with a platform such as this with multiple options to learn will increase the likelihood of the learning appealing to the learning style of different learners. Besides, this approach will help you not just achieve the required levels of acquisition and application of knowledge on the job but a positive return on investment on your training.
As an example, I showcase how the platform helped our employees learn about the processes that we need to follow in our organization.
We built this platform to foster a collaborative work environment, fuel interactions between team members, create communities of learning and practice, and provide a medium to our employees to receive on-the-job support.
The platform has enabled our employees to:
1. An element of personalization.
Employees can upload their photo, customize their account, provide a description about themselves, and make personal details (such as their birthday, address, Facebook URL, Twitter URL, etc) known to others.
2. The concept of “Spaces”.
3. Employees can share videos, pictures, their thoughts, or web content on their timeline (similar to Facebook).
Furthermore, they can:
4. Collaboration and engagement.
You can also view this video to see how we have used our social learning platform to bring about greater engagement in our employees.
As you see from this case study, we have successfully established several communities where learning, knowledge sharing, and further value-adds (like further enrichment through contributions by other users) happen. The communities are managed by learners giving them the required control and ownership to propagate learning with peers.
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