People are social beings by nature – it is reflected in their tendency to observe, interact and share ideas with others.
According to Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, given their ability to absorb and learn behavior from their surroundings, through observation, impersonation and modeling, social interaction plays a key role in learning.
But what about eLearning then, it’s designed for individual rather than group learning, isn’t it irrelevant to this theory?
Well, no, because the technology creates a good deal of opportunities for implementing social learning strategies in eLearning.
Let’s take a look at why social learning is so popular and what are some of the types of collaborative eLearning activities that organizations across the globe started to practice more and more.
Although this is an informal learning strategy it gets great results. It motivates employees with rewards and gamification elements and absence of strict deadlines, creates a no-pressure learning scene where learners (employees) naturally tend to discuss what they’re learning every day at work and share knowledge and experience.
How to facilitate proper social learning?
The crucial element for encouraging the progress of social learning among your employees is building a social community and provoking discussion opportunities, which can be done with following activities:
Blogs are the ideal place for information and knowledge exchange among learners. Take for example uploading the outcomes of collaborative eLearning activities or the results of group projects and the fact that registered users can add comments to published material. Moreover, their advantage is reflected in information continuity as well, and the fact that they eventually turn into an excellent collection of course-related information.
Blogs allow for eLearning pros to turn tables and encourage employees to create their own blogs. Writing down their ideas, uploading their CV or sharing valuable information resources and links, gives a more personalized note to employees’ eLearning experience.
2. Creating a closed social media group
Given how much social media have invaded our lives, it’s not surprising that engaging in collaborative eLearning activities within closed social media groups, is currently one of the leading trends in training design. Instead of creating brainstorming and discussion sessions somewhere else, eLearning trainers can take advantage of learner’s familiarity with social media environment and just create an exclusive group on Facebook or any other social media network. Just like with blogging, closed social media groups allow for employees to develop discussions, share personal experiences and maintain focus on the topic of eLearning course.
Not only does the closed social media group evolve into the place of meeting for all course attendants but it also motivates them to share their experience and learn from one another.
3. Branching Scenarios
Developing scenarios of real-life situations, that are most likely faced in the workplace, is one of the most effective social learning activities since it turns learners into active participants, whose actions and decisions actually have the power to make a difference. Branching scenarios make an eLearning experience more engaging and interactive while empowering learners with the ability to strengthen their knowledge as well as to widen their skill sets.
Corporate trainers use branching scenarios to point out on both positive and negative outcomes of each action or decision made.
However it’s not an easy task to find scenarios that are good enough for collaborative learning activities, so it’s best if corporate trainers could work carefully with managers and identify problems that employees may face on daily basis.
4. Implementing a social learning management system
No need to say, your employees are your company’s greatest asset and in order to attract and keep the best talent, you must stimulate, encourage and make them feel they are an essential part of company’s objectives. Although it is still a “work in process”, Implementing a social LMS, can increase employee engagement and satisfaction by promoting a more collaborative workplace culture.
Some of the social components serve vital business functions such as community growth, on-demand support, healthy collaboration for both live instructor and self-paced content, accelerated knowledge sharing and content organization.
These LMS components make it possible for organizations to create and preserve a community around basically any idea, course or topic.