More and more organizations are recognizing the benefits of so-called social learning. It is an exciting way to deliver eLearning experiences to employees, customers and business partners. The concept is used by forward-thinking organizations to foster collaborative learning and its application in the workplace.
Man is by nature a social animal, that is why social interactions are so important in our development. Businesses recognize that and leverage platforms that enable social and informal learning where learners collaborate, share, network and exchange ideas in order to solve problems.
Statistics show that 82% of businesses that make use of social learning tools want to increase them even further. What is more, course completion increased to 85% in HBX (Harvard Business School) after introducing social learning.
Having effective and engaging learning experiences that amplify the success of the organization’s learning strategy is crucial. Are you thinking about building your own social learning platform? You are in the right place, keep reading.
What is Social Learning?
Social and collaborative learning may be one of humankind’s oldest form of learning. In psychology, the basis of the social learning theory is simple: people learn by watching other people. We observe the behaviour and we mimic it.
In recent years, the definition of social learning has been redefined to fit into the work environment. In a business context, social learning is defined by the informal ways that we learn from colleagues, in particular, through social technologies like discussion forums, videos, wikis or blogs. Businesses that support social learning have environments that foster collaboration and conversation between learners across the organization.
Why is a Social Learning platform so important?
According to the 70-20-10 model of learning and development, individuals obtain 70% of knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interaction with others and 10% from educational events. The model is considered the greatest value as a general guideline for organizations wanting to maximize the effectiveness of their learning and it continues to be adopted by many businesses throughout the world.
Integrating social learning in the learning strategy has benefits for both learners as well as the business. It can improve the learning experience and result in a positive outcome in terms of learning success and a positive return of investment.
Let’s dive into those benefits.
Benefits for learners
- learner-centric - social learning appeals to the learner because it is learner-centric and allows them to take responsibility for their personal learning
- modern approach - social learning is especially liked by the younger staff (those who are entering the modern workforce)
- flexibility - social learning offers support to formal means of learning and is flexible in their application
- fosters collaboration - social learning enhances corporate culture and allows learners to be supported by other learners
Benefits for businesses
- learner engagement
- effective collaboration
- encourages self-organization
Social learning empowers learners. At times, all it takes is to consult a colleague in order to refocus and get the job faster. Collaboration and interaction help to learn better.
What is more, the ratio between social learning approaches and web-based training is 75:1 - which is a huge advantage for the former.
Must-have Social Learning system features
With the right features, your social learning platform will become a super learning platform. Let’s talk about a few of them.
1. Live chat
Live chat is a method of communication most frequently chosen by learners that appreciate instant gratification. If you need help right away, you can get in touch in real-time and get answers to your questions. There is no need to wait around for somebody to reply to your email, it happens instantly. Live chat can also help in recommendations sharing, solving problems together and getting encouragement.
Groups are super helpful because of their focused nature. Thanks to them, learners can create discussion areas covering the particular topic and criteria. This gives them the ability to connect with the right people at the right stage.
3. Social stream
A social stream or ‘timeline’ displays news, announcements and updates from learners. It is
visible to all participants and is a great place to share achievements.
Surveys help to get to know learners’ needs. A good survey can help you get answers to some of the most important questions like which type of content learners enjoy the most or what content should be released next. Ask away to get meaningful feedback, which will help you make key decisions.
Throughout the course, some of the same questions are likely to appear. That is the reason why it is good to have FAQs as a common part of any training program. Provide a repository for the important matters that the learners need to know.
Social Q&A takes things to the next level by encouraging learners to participate in the question and answer session. You can reward them with points or badges for good questions and offering good answers.
6. Team learning
Encouraging teamwork is an amazing way to improve learner engagement. Collaboration drives completion and teamwork produce impressive results. Implement team structure and a leaderboard system into your learning management system. Track team activity and reward it.
7. Area for experts
Knowledge transfer is key in organizations of all sizes. Create a solution that allows learners to find experts in a given area and contact them easily. Provide visibility for your subject matter experts to improve your team’s skills.
How to Build a Successful Social Learning Platform
Designing a social learning platform that works well, attracts and retain users. How to ensure your platform is a success? Here are some steps to take.
1. Speak to your potential users
Before you launch your social learning platform it is crucial to think about what your users need. Talk to the people in your community, ask them about their challenges and what would benefit them. You can do this through a formal survey or informal discussions.
2. Start with a pilot
Starting small ensures you can test your product on a smaller scale and improve your platform before the full launch. This feedback will help you find bugs, find out what works, giving you the best chance of success. What is more, the early group will create some activity on your platform so you will not be starting from scratch.
3. New content
Although starting with a platform with lots of resources is good, it will quickly become boring if there is no new content. That is why it is super important to upload new resources regularly. Encourage user-generated content like a community blog or a forum. People enjoy learning from their peers so the more user content added the better.
4. Encourage participation
Until your social learning platform builds a solid community, you may need a strategy to encourage people to use it. Think about ways to invite people: through exclusive content, digital certificates, discounts etc.
Building a community is just the beginning. A good marketing strategy including email marketing, social media promotion, SEO optimization, content marketing or advertising is key. If your platform is targeted at a particular, smaller group, consider using direct email with your personal contacts.
Keep an eye on your learning analytics. Find out which activities your users are completing, how much time they are spending on the platform, bounce rates etc. These analytics will help you understand how to further improve your platform.
Social learning is one of the oldest methods of knowledge acquisition. People learn through observing others’ behaviours and attitudes. Businesses are embracing the power of social learning and are creating platforms that encourage it.
Social learning LMS serves as a platform for organizations to share knowledge while ensuring that the employees are given the desired training.
If you are looking for more information on building your own LMS, go to Why Build Your Own Corporate LMS. And if you want a partner that can help you design and develop a successful learning management platform of any type, contact our experienced teams.