How to Facilitate Social Learning in a Digital Environment?

Social Learning – another buzzword for the learning and development talk of the 2018 – is by no means a new idea. The Social Learning Theory developed already in the 1940s. As many old things, however, this learning approach still has value if used correctly.

In the age of social media, people are more connected than ever. We reach people in different offices and business units more seamlessly than ever before, thanks to mobile technology. With the soon-to-be fifth generation (5G) of networks, we are also increasingly embracing continuous connectivity. As people, however, we seem more busier and more stressed than ever, with an overwhelmingly little time to commit to formal learning activities. Yet, organisations need to train their people to face the rapidly changing business landscape.

So, it’s time to supercharge the old social learning concepts, and bring them to the 21st century with the aid of modern technology. Here are two digital ideas to consider if you’re looking for ways for efficient knowledge transfer, fostering a culture of learning and producing capable problem solvers in your organisation.

1. Utilizing Social Media as a Learning Platform

Social media has incredible power and has a high penetration among professionals. Setting up a company internal social media, or a discussion forum devoted to learning can bring about good results. In the social media, employees from all around the world may share their best practises, interact with their peers, and even hold virtual workshops. People in the organisation have a greater access to knowledge resources, as everything is documented without extra effort; discussions and thoughts can be put out for everyone to see.

Additionally, social media provides a channel for performance support inquiries for cases where there may be no prior cases or predefined alternatives. It also provides the employees the tool to evaluate their own decisions and behaviour against others. Usually just by reading/listening/seeing the way your colleagues complete their tasks can cause that moment of critically evaluating our own working practises.

Of course, handling your learning problems through a publicly available social media is never a smart decision. To counter information leaks, to protect confidential information and to maintain brand integrity, it might be wise to consider implementing a truly internal social media; outside of the likes of Google and Facebook.

2. Collecting Hidden Knowledge through Social Tools

A thing that has puzzled organisations for a long time is the transfer of hidden knowledge within the organisation. Our employees have tremendous amounts of professional knowledge and practical experience. These best practises are something that the juniors entering the company would wish to have available to them.

The digital and mobile technologies provide a realm of possibilities in this regard. Nowadays, we carry very powerful computers and documentation tools in our pockets. With these tools (smart phones!) we are easily able to document our work routines, best practices and tips to colleagues. By uploading these to a common social platform, we can actually create an vast pool of organisational best practises. Think about the effect on inductions and onboarding new hires and junior employees. They’ll have instant and constant access to a wealth of knowledge and information from the leading experts – your own employees!

Furthermore, a social content production approach like this can help to alleviate pressure from the learning and development department. The L&D professionals get a constant stream of quality information and input, which can be subjected to expert peer-to-peer review, again through the tools of social media. The L&D professionals no longer need to worry about the subject matter, rather they can focus their efforts on what they know best: creating engaging and efficient learning content out of the best possible, and most importantly, company specific insights.