When learning leaders look back on 2015, one of the year's defining learning trends will be the democratizing of training and the widespread emergence of social learning. More and more L&D organizations are finding social learning an effective method to increase audience engagement and solidify knowledge retention.
Here are firsthand accounts of how three prominent learning leaders are incorporating social and informal learning into their organizations.
"Social learning is such a big part of everyone’s learning experiences—it’s getting people together, providing opportunities to learn from each other. You can’t really formalize socialized learning. This is constantly on my mind—social and collaborative learning spaces.
"One way to get started with collaborative learning is to have an expert talk about a topic of interest with just a few prepared slides. We started ours with a poll: 'For today’s topic, which of these areas interests you the most?' The presenter was prepared for all of the options. It gets people who are used to just listening and multitasking through webinars involved. They ask more questions because they are interested in it. The goal is to be collaborative and interactive. This format can also be a good way to quick demo a new tool. For the unstructured social learning, sometimes it is helping them to create good habits, like how to watch Twitter for trends or actively engage in LinkedIn groups. Sometimes it’s about how you bake social opportunities into more traditional classroom settings. Are we taking the opportunities where these people are together to get them out of their seat and networking in a semi-structured way?
"I try to see where there is a need for collaboration in an inexpensive or informal format and offer semi-structured and short virtual learning sessions on a monthly basis. If you brand these sessions as a series, you can hold them monthly, covering hot topics for the business. Making them optional and laidback, with minimal slides, is effective. People wonder at first why you are not reading to them off slides, but once they realize it’s a session where they can actually talk and engage with a leader in the topic, it’s valuable to them."
"We have changed the courses to shorter modules—short bursts of learning. We are changing from the old 30-minute courses with slides and slides and slides. We have chunked the learning and made it self-paced. Now, when people have downtime or free time, they can go in and do it themselves. We don’t impose a deadline; we reward completion. Scores are published, and they can see how other employees are scoring—who is at the top, who is not. There are different game themes that keep it interesting. They learn products, features and benefits, service standards, how to handle the customer experience, policy, and procedures.
"The platform includes a social learning aspect. There are chat rooms, and employees can blog and share best practices. Managers can upload from iPhone a video of a demonstration, record a best practice modeling behavior, or record a manager message of the day. With 165 branches in 7 states, the leader message can be heard. There is peer-to-peer learning, it is just-in-time and relevant, and people can comment."
"There is great value in social learning, particularly for those who often don’t come by 'social' naturally. The challenge for social learning in a billable environment is overcoming the perception of a social platform as being a time-waster. In our case, we focused on the organization’s communities of practice around important, relevant topics like combustion turbines or mechanical systems design. By focusing on hot topics, we took the emphasis away from the individual. We created spaces for the topics and have assigned subject matter experts for each topic. It has taken off. Experts have a chance to share with more junior staff. They can answer questions like, 'Why is this happening?' and 'How did you do this on the project?'
"I believe social learning will become more important than the LMS over time—it makes the learning relevant, allowing learning to be pulled, instead of pushing training at them. The platform enables experts to address problems in one office and to solve them across locations and projects. It helps with adoption of new software and makes newer regionals feel part of the mix. It is a true success story."
Topics: Learning Trends