3 Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

As the current work-from-home and social distancing measures force people out of the offices, we find ourselves in a new situation. While remote working has been around for a long time, the current scale is unprecedented. Coincidentally, over the past few months, we’ve started to unearth some of the psychological difficulties in prolonged remote work arrangements. One of such difficulties is related to human connection. Fundamentally, people are social animals, and taking social opportunities away can have adverse impact on mental wellbeing. Therefore, we came up with 3 different virtual learning ideas that increase social connectivity. Let’s take a look!

Try out user-generated content

User-generated content can be a big opportunity in times like these. This means giving your learners and users (i.e. employees) the ability to create and share learning content and resources. By creating learning for each other, they are engaging in a socially connecting activity already. However, it’s not just for the creator. It’s likely that the consumer of the learning content may feel an increased sense of social connectivity as well. As the content comes from a peer, it can be very relatable and empathetic of the challenges people face.

User-generated content can take the form of even formal courses, but it can be much more granular and low-key too. Think blogs, resources, “homemade” videos, how-to materials, virtual classrooms facilitated by the learners themselves. Sky is the limit when it comes to creating content nowadays, but it doesn’t mean that small couldn’t be successful. Additionally, by using your users smartly, you can alleviate some of the L&D team’s pressure and reinforce a learning culture in the organisation.

Experiment with virtual lunch & learns

Besides the lack of social connectivity, another deficiency of working from home can be lack of structure. At the office, working days may often be structured around a common schedule. Everyone goes to lunch together, people share a coffee break, etc. Virtual lunch & learns can be an opportunity to get two birds with one stone. Firstly, they can bring added structure by setting a recurring activity. Secondly, lunch can be a great time to reinforce social connectivity with casual talks and chats.

The learning part shouldn’t be too serious, but the focus should be on social connectivity. It’s important to keep it casual enough for people to let down their guard and connect. However, it could be a great opportunity to do some informal sharing, e.g. about what different people do in the organisation, how they cope with the current situation and so on. These kind of sessions require very little effort, just an online video training tool of some kind, or even consumer-grade social media apps.

Start running a virtual book club

While people spend an increased amount of time inside four walls, they also need meaningful non-work activities to help them unwind. Hopefully, not all of it would involve sitting in front of a screen either. By informally surveying our peers and colleagues, we found that people are reading more books when they are confined to their homes to balance out the screen time. This sounds like a ripe opportunity for a virtual book club!

In addition to social connectivity, book clubs can be an incredibly powerful empathetic learning experience. And the core of the learning has less to do with the subject matter of the book than you think. The real power is in the discussion after reading the book. It never ceases to amaze us how differently different people read and perceive different characters, events and themes in books. If you’ve ever participated in a book club that spends a lot of time reflecting on the reading, you have surely noticed what you may have perceived as true, just or right was the complete opposite in someone else’s mind. The great power of book clubs consequently is in unearthing those differences and articulating their foundations. By doing this, we understand each other and our world views just a little bit better and can become more empathetic human beings.

That being said, there’s naturally a lot of great non-fiction out there that would surely spark a lot of new and fresh ideas for the business or work practices! Just go ahead and start looking!

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