Empowering Employees with Collaborative Learning

In the corporate training world, we face major constraints, mainly in terms of finances and time. Naturally, this limits our ability to curate formal and structured learning activities for our employees. Hence, there are much more training needs that we can address. Yet, it is often that we have subject matter experts for virtually all these topics in our own organisation. Whereas formal training can be problematic due to the lack of agility, social and collaborative learning can help to bridge the gap in upskilling the workforce. Thus, lets take a look at how we can seamlessly empower our employees through collaborative learning.

Defining the role of collaborative learning in the learning architecture

Firstly, it’s important to start by defining where this type of social learning activities work best. In terms of employee effort required vs. value-add, it is likely that peer-to-peer learning is more suited for acquiring advanced knowledge in given topics. Loss of employee productivity is kept to a minimum, as only motivated and interested learners seek out the guidance of others. Furthermore, when there is an existing base level of knowledge, the peer-to-peer activities can focus on more experiential learning. For instance, subject matter experts could collaborate with the learners to create solutions for real business problems. Hence, you might consider providing the base knowledge through formal e-learning and then let your own experts become mentors for the interested few.

Creating platforms for peer-to-peer engagement

Consequently, for collaborative learning to work, there should be a platform for subject-matter experts and interested parties to meet. Whereas some situations may warrant a digital platform, a face-to-face approach might work well for others. The important thing is that learners are able to find “mentors” within the organisation who can guide them on their learning journey. Furthermore, learners should be able to connect with their peers to solve problems, share ideas and learn through discussion and interaction. Whatever the medium, it should be one that can be seamlessly incorporated into the flow of work. Naturally, the advantage of digital platforms is the access to e.g. discussion analytics. Proper analytics help you to capture the learning needs as well as identify key experts in your organisation.

Encouraging and motivating knowledge sharing

Naturally, it is vital to get the employees to share their expertise with others. Helping others is an area of intrinsic motivation for many. However, due to hectic jobs and everything that comes with them, you might want to consider extrinsic motivation tools as well. Gamification, for example, is an easy way to reward, recognise and motivate subject matter experts to share more. Naturally, it works also for motivating the learners to achieve more. Also, it is important to trust your employees to freely formulate their own training activities. This type of user-generated learning content approach is quite agile, as many personalised learning needs can be fulfilled rapidly. By giving the employees the freedom to dictate the collaborative learning experience, you’ll likely see much more motivated individuals as well.

Has your organisation taken up on collaborative learning or social learning? Would you like to find out about different ways to better knowledge transfer within your organisation? Just contact us and we’ll be happy to share our experiences. 

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