Social learning – a paradigm of acquisition of skills and knowledge from the experiences of people within and outside an organization – is increasingly being adopted by companies. What are the advantages of learning from our peers and experts in the industry? Why are firms worldwide making social learning an integral part of their L&D strategies?
Organizations are encouraging their people to network and leverage the collective knowledge of their industry because of 5 important reasons. Let us now see what they are and how social learning makes a difference.
Reason 1: Facilitates innovation
Social learning acts as a catalyst to innovation. It facilitates a seamless flow of ideas and best practices. This helps an organization to learn and adapt new ways to enhance performance. For instance, a civil engineer can use LinkedIn to learn from the experiences of his peers in using a new construction technology and understand how they benefited from it. He can use this information to efficiently implement the same technology in his organization.
Reason 2: Helps people learn what they need to learn
A major reason why social learning is very effective is that it delivers what the learners want to know. It helps them learn what they need to learn and chart their own course of learning. Staying with the above example, the civil engineer using LinkedIn can put questions to his peers about specific aspects of the construction technology on which he needs more information.
Reason 3: Imparts stress-free learning
It is well known that stress is the biggest enemy of effective learning. Social learning allows learners to acquire information in an informal and stress-free environment. Unlike formal learning, where you have to go through the rigors of attending lengthy sessions and wrack your nerves to answer questions in assessments, social learning can be used to obtain the needed information by contacting your peers over professional networking sites.
Reason 4: Provides access to information at little cost
We live in an era where the demands for optimal use of the training dollar are ever increasing. Social learning can be used effectively to provide information in a highly cost-effective way. You don’t have to spend much money to open a LinkedIn account and get access to the collective knowledge of your industry.
Reason 5: Overcomes the setbacks of formal structured training
Performing needs analysis, developing the content, designing the course and delivering it to the learner – these activities take considerable time. Don’t they? We live in a fiercely dynamic and competitive environment where timely access to information could mean the difference between success and failure. You can get the information you want in quick time through social learning. Obtaining information through interacting with industry experts on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn is much faster than designing and delivering a course in a formal learning environment.
Having said that social learning helps get over the flaws of structured learning, I would also like to state that learning from the experiences of the industry can’t replace the latter. The key to success lies in evolving the right strategy that allows formal and social learning to complement each other, thereby providing the best training.
Authoring tools and LMS unleashing the power of social learning
Rapid authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate and Lectora Inspire support social learning effectively. Captivate contains a Twitter widget that enables the learners to communicate effectively with their peers and also acts as a catalyst for instructor–learner interaction. Lectora Inspire allows the learning content to be shared on widely used social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) such as Moodle effectively support elements of Web 3.0 that go a long way in facilitating social learning effectively. These LMSs can be used to efficiently manage exchange of information through blogs, discussion forums, podcast, social Media, offline messaging, and email as well as through chat rooms and live web conferencing.
Thus, we see that these 5 benefits of social learning make it imperative for organizations to harness the collective knowledge of the industry. What do you think?