Collaboration among employees is an essential practice for learning, this is acknowledged by organizations the world over. Social learning is integral to all learning environments as learners tend to gain knowledge more by observation, interaction, and collaboration. Social learning in simple terms is learning with the help of your social network, we tend to engage in one or the other form of social learning in our day to day activities, it could be the discussions in the cafeteria or more sophisticated interactions on blogs and social media.
Interactions and themes of collaboration have led to high impact and engaging outcomes thus, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn have a massive user presence and have quality formal and informal interactions. As a learning strategy, social learning can make a tremendous difference in corporate training. Social learning has a wider reach and potential than just the social media elements of comments, messaging, posts, wikis, discussion boards, and video chats in corporate learning.
To be effective and result in meaningful interaction there needs to be a structured approach to foster the collaborative spirit among the corporate employees. Virtual communities are a great platform to share ideas, and information to encourage the participants to contribute information to add to the existing knowledge base.
Social Learning Benefits
While everyone agrees to the view that social learning works in terms of empowering the user, learning might not always have behavioral implications, its more like a process of acquiring information in the social context.
As per the theory of active learning, the direct involvement of the learners is crucial to the knowledge assimilation process. The business, as well as the learner, can benefit from this kind of learning technique. It allows for a positive outcome in terms of the return on investment for the company and enhancing the experience of the learner. As per Learning and Development theories, employees learn 70% from their work experiences, 20% from their interactions with their peers and mentors, 10% from formal and structured training programs. The peer feedback and mentoring helps the learner re-focus on their learning progress and sets them in the direction of their learning milestone.
Tapping the potential of millennials is important for any organization as they are the future of the global workforce. Millennials prefer social learning and learning on the go, they identify with this type of learning more than any other generation. From the business perspective, there are manifold benefits that can be seen in the form of increased learner engagement, self-organization in the learners, and group learning, it can help supplement varied training needs and enhance the impact of initiatives like Change Management (processes that help support transformation in the organization).
As per a Harvard Business Review study, after the introduction of social learning, there was an 85% increase in the completion rate of the online courses. And as per a Brandon Hall Group survey, 73% of companies showed interest in adopting social learning while 60% expressed their desire to see their employees interact using learning tools and forums. Leading technology firm Cisco got huge success in implementing social learning processes with 98% of the employees adopting the same in the first year itself. Leading companies reported huge savings in their web training costs after picking up a social learning strategy. Most of the companies who tried this type of learning wanted to continue using them in their organizations in the future. Let’s understand how to integrate collaboration in the form of social learning in the corporate setting to maximize the impact of learning.
How to Introduce Social Learning in Corporate organizations?
It’s vital to understand the benefits of involving social learning and how it will support formal or primary corporate training. Early adopters of this learning will share their positive experience and the acceptance can grow in the organization. It can also help supplement a Learning Management System to provide users with a community-building platform with features like content curation, interactive forums, creating communities of interest, sharing learning and personal experiences, usage of the knowledge base, and access to mentors and subject matter experts.
Corporate organizations should objectively judge the employee and organizational readiness to take up this type of learning. This type of needs analysis helps understand the perspective of the organizations and their members regarding this learning technique. It is wise to include programs or courses that are more receptive to the integration of social learning and can greatly benefit from the collaborative efforts of the audience, once it is successful then more courses can benefit from the social integration.
There are multiple avenues where this kind of learning can prove to be advantageous, group projects, moderated discussions, mentoring sessions, knowledge-sharing workshops, social surveys, and brainstorming or problem-solving sessions. Social learning can be nurtured in an organization using several ways such as identifying employees who can champion the cause and bring positive influence to others, creating early success stories, identifying people to conduct peer-based training, and leveraging social media channels to connect and update users.
Through social learning, the learning process becomes fast with the learner getting updated with new information quickly as opposed to formal training sessions. This platform can be utilized to its advantage by scheduling feedback sessions for the learners. This would help understand different aspects of the organization’s e-learning modules, such as the elements that are beneficial and which can be improved upon, and how the group effort can be enhanced further, analytics can be assessed to understand the progress and if any changes are required to help achieve the desired learning goals.
This type of learning creates a support system for the employees, they can reach out to seek help from peers at any point in time, receive support for any workplace challenges, and results in increased interaction and rapport building amongst team members. It creates a collaborative work atmosphere and provides personalized solutions to the employees. The direct result is the boost in the morale of the employees as they get better on the job because of the personalized solutions from their peers and mentors.