Tips and Best Practices for Implementing Social Learning

Designing Digitally

12/12/2019

Tips and Best Practices for Implementing Social Learning

There might come a time when traditional classroom teaching models will become obsolete. Until then, the way we learn today remains intertwined with the way our parents and teachers exposed us to new information while growing up. Although most eLearning educational models are refined for meshing with the digital factor, the fact remains that people are social creatures and no amount of digitization will change that.

We need each other to thrive, so the social aspect of traditional learning is an intrinsic part of our online learning experience too. Providing social learning for students and employees, making use of the social platforms already is high use, and wisely balancing quality content with social learning can create the proper medium for a successful, ongoing education.

Explaining Social Learning

The idea of social learning goes all the way back to B. F. Skinner, Clark Lewis Hull, and Albert Bandura. The modern concept of social learning is based on their Social Learning Theory. This theory proposes that people learn from observing and imitating others. While we're engaged in social learning, we can form new behaviors simply by observing others, without having to put theory to practice. Thus, harnessing the power of social learning in employee training can lead to great benefits for the organization over time.

Bandura observed how people learn and proposed that social learning occurs through:

  1. Cognition- people learn better in a social context

  2. Vicarious Reinforcement- people learn from observing others' behavior and the consequences of those behaviors

  3. Modeling- people can learn without necessarily changing their behavior

  4. Reinforcement- does play a role but is not the sole reason why learning occurs

  5. Reciprocal Determination- learning combines elements from cognition, environment, and behavior

Social learning today takes place as much online as it does during face-to-face interactions. Social media channels are a great resource for companies looking to introduce continuing education to their employees since they are already set up and all they need is to use them as a learning tool. Still, more companies are investing in their own social channels that can bring employees together and create a unified learning culture in the workplace.

Read also: What is Social Learning?

Include Social Learning in Employee Training

Integrating social learning into your company's Learning and Development (L&D) culture is beneficial because:

Employees feel empowered to direct their own learning experiences, thus creating a network of knowledgeable people willing and able to teach each other.

  • Learners stay engaged with the educational content for longer since conversations can be initiated at any time, anywhere, and from any device.

  • This style of learning can supplement other learning delivery methods by providing forums and discussion boards that can easily engage learners.

  • You will have access to real-time data on how the training is progressing, what can be improved, and how employees are faring.

Social Learning Strategy

Implementing social learning can run smoothly since most staff members are already connected via social media channels. Still, it's always prudent to lay out a plan before introducing new elements into the workplace. Here are some pertinent social learning tips on how to go about it.

1. Assess the Workforce

This is the first stage of your social learning strategy: surveying your employees. You'll need to figure out whether social learning would work well with already established training models, if employees are open to adopting social learning, and their current levels of proficiency.

2. Evaluate What Training Modules can Translate to Social Learning

Assuming you already have some training in place, you can lower costs by reframing existing training programs to include social learning. This can be as easy as creating a forum over which employees can help each other answer questions and explain difficult concepts.

3. Adopt Social Learning Platforms

It is also a good idea to source social learning platforms. You'll start off with an existing knowledge base, social learning tools, expert mentoring, and discussion forums.

4. Promote Accurate Information

One of the perks of online learning is being able to fix and update erroneous information. A social learning work environment is much more prone to weeding out false content and replacing it with facts.

5. Create a Feedback Loop

Social learning works well primarily due to the feedback loop that gets created between employee and employer. Take advantage of this to promote continuous improvement for employees and the sum of their parts, the company.

Social Learning Best Practices

Social employee learning can be stimulated by:

  • One-on-one tutor interaction- in this scenario the tutor can be either an expert, a coach, or a more knowledgeable peer. This creates a strong bond between trainer and learner and helps to quickly answer looming questions.

  • Learner presentations- this type of interaction encourages learners to explain what they have learned to others. Presentations are one-sided. However, they can lead to social learning through Q&As and can help increase knowledge retention since the learner needs to synthesize what they have learned.

  • Sessions of Q&A- these interactions help fill knowledge gaps for learners with different learning backgrounds.

  • Post-and-comment interchange- in this exchange, learners and teachers comment on an initial post. This leads to an animated interaction in which questions are being asked and answers are being given.

General and specialized discussions- this is one method of getting a lot of participants to pitch in their ideas, ask questions, and provide more detailed answers for their peers.

Conclusion

There are many other ways of implementing social learning in your L&D culture. You can find additional resources on our blog to supplement the information in this article. The fact remains that social learning is on the rise and getting in on the action early is not just beneficial but prudent. To learn more about social learning strategies and how to combine business goals with learner needs in order to spur growth, contact us for a free consultation.

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