Here is what Me Learning’s Head of Local Government, John Brewder, has shared regarding this topic:
In recent conversations with customers I have noticed an increase in the use of the term Social Learning as the shift towards a more modern learning experience for organisations continues to race along to keep pace with trends and technology.
Social Learning can be a key tool in allowing employers to keep their e-learning program, on which they make significant investments over the years, at the forefront of their Learning and Development program, allowing them to maximise the return on that investment.
Below I outline some thoughts about Social Learning and how it is fast becoming the preferred methodology behind organisations wanting to harness people’s continued fascination with digital connectivity.
Is Social Learning the future of e-learning in the workplace?
In recent times the rise in popularity of social media has changed the meaning of the term ‘social’ for almost everyone. As a result of it we are currently living in a world of sharing and connecting with people around us like never before.
Social learning is a learning methodology now being used in corporate training by various organisations to help employees learn better working on the premise that that people learn better when they learn collectively or as a part of a community.
So how do employers use their e-learning programme to add value to their Social Learning strategy?
Social media platforms allow organisations to have a continuous discussion on the Learning and Development needs of its staff and the usefulness of the current program in meeting these needs. Forums allow employees the ability to share their thoughts and ideas around the e-learning courses they attempt, ask questions and provide answers.
They also allow employers to have discussions around certain topics and point staff in the direction of training solutions to suit them. Forums are also a great way to encourage gamification of e-learning (see below) which has shown to have hugely positive results when used well. Employees already use social media on a daily basis, as well as bringing discussions on e-learning to a familiar platform is sure to bring positive results.
Key to successful social learning is communication. The more your employees communicate with each other and the organisation regarding the e-learning program, the better. Surveys and polls can enhance communication as the organisation is provided with valuable data, which can be used to improve the program.
Gamification has had tremendous impacts in cases where it has been introduced and embraced. Simple ideas such as leaderboards are typically seen to work really well to increase healthy competition and encourage social interactions. Awarding points or badges for course completions are used to prove progress, and the employee with most achievements tops at the leaderboard. If possible the leaderboard can be viewed through the Learning Management System (LMS). Leaderboards, of course, have little or no tangible value but have been proven to engage employees immensely.
Group based e-learning
E-learning is traditionally an individual learning experience. But as the industry evolves and more innovative solutions appear the ability to build e-learning courses that require the employees of a team to work together is becoming more of an option. For example, the same course may be shared to all the team members, but different parts of that course may be built keeping in mind the skills of different employees, and only that employee can access that particular part or section. This effectively ties the whole team together, as the completion of the course now depends on every team member individually as well as collectively.
The idea could even be expanded to include inter departmental training collaborations as well improving the wider organisation development needs.
Don’t forget face to face communication
Social learning should not be limited to simply harnessing the power of social media. The organisation will benefit more if they promote social learning through their interactions with employees. Face-to-face communication is also a part of social learning. Building a successful learning culture in any organisation takes a lot of effort on behalf of those responsible for learning and development and if they are to successfully upskill their employees they should be clear about the value of the e-learning program as part of the larger learning strategy and should work to ensure employees value the opportunities on offer to them and are able to successfully and easily navigate the LMS and develop good learning habits.
Learning of all types should never be rushed. Time should be taken to allow staff to learn at their preferred pace with an eye always on the fact that the organisation’s overall growth is the ultimate objective. A successful Social Learning strategy will be easier to integrate into a corporate learning program if this is recognised.