What is social learning—is it just a way to teach and learn through social media?
While social learning is enabled by social media, it’s actually another approach that flips the usual teaching paradigm on it’s head. Social learning is self-led—no instructor necessary—proactive learning. Learners learning from each other, openly asking questions to, and seeking support from, their peer networks. While this new approach asks trainers and managers to cede control over how, where, and when training happens, corporations stand to benefit.
Proactive learners drive social learning. They ask and answer questions, request help and offer support. They do not want to learn passively—a change in what workers expect from their employers evidenced by other trends in compliance and corporate training. Within the context of a more formal training or compliance program, social learners can self-select the specific curriculum content and details that interest them most, or that matter most to their work. They can become the informal expert in that area, and can help support other students on that topic of specialty—other students who might in turn be supporting them in different topic areas.
The benefits to your corporate training programs are numerous: your learners are not only more engaged (i.e. learning better), they’re also actively seeking their own material to learn from, which in turn empowers your training environment with the most up-to-the-minute information possible. Ideas found or questions asked in the social learning environment might even help drive new or improved content for your training curriculum.
Social Learning is Particularly Efficient
Learners can tackle new content right when the need arises—a type of on-demand, need-based learning that helps makes the content especially relevant, and makes learning a constant in the work environment. It also helps with team building—workers who learn together like this develop a common support network that doesn’t need to go away when the training is done. They learn together, come together as a team, and come to understand each others’ strengths and value. This builds a better corporate culture where ideas and questions can be shared and nurtured, not to mention a good boost to your reputation as a good employer.
So what can you do to benefit from social learning? It’s quite simple, really: don’t try to control the discussion that your learners engage in. Encourage them to seek help from each other and find non-trainer, non-officially sourced answers to their questions. Social media, of course, is an ideal platform for this—whether Facebook or Yammer groups, designated Twitter hashtags, or the wikis, blogs and discussion forums enabled within your corporate learning management system.
Learners will take care of the rest themselves—and your organization can benefit from better informed, critical thinking, engaged employees who are continuously learning. To find out other ways to improve employee engagement, register for our March 27 webinar.