Engaging workplaces have one particular trait that all companies should aspire too – employees come together in a community, where they can learn, grow and share their knowledge and experience.
This type of social learning has become one of the most efficient methods to drive employee development and foster engagement.
“We define learning as the transformative process of taking in information that, when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced, changes what we know and builds on what we can do. It’s based on input, process, and reflection. It is what changes us.”
Creating social learning spaces at work
Employee development and learning is usually associated with formal trainings that provide little or no room for interaction. Social learning is different. It’s about building conversations.
In a formal learning environment, employees are expected to demonstrate key behaviors and skills, whereas in a social learning environment, they can participate in conversations, combining knowledge with experience and dialogue.
You can create a social learning space in any number of ways – you can build an online learning space, a physical one, you can organize events, set up a mentorship program or make social learning an essential principle of your way of working.
The key is to bring people together and encourage conversation. You can structure your learning plan and guide the discussions towards certain topics that you’d like employees to focus on.
The majority of employee management systems have included a social feature to allow teams to design their own communication space. These virtual social environments can also provide a great learning opportunity, in a team context.
Social learning tools
Today’s employees, mostly millennials, prefer a collaborative work culture over a competitive one. Discussion boards, content sharing, micro-blogs, wikis, polls and forums are just some of the online learning tools that are being increasingly used in employee development.
Software Advice, a site that reviews LMS solutions, asked employees in a recent study which of these tools and channels they perceive as being most effective. Twenty-four percent of respondents said that discussion boards would be their preferred module, followed closely by content sharing (23 percent) and the ability to view or give ratings for courses and lessons (21 percent).
Top LMS Social Learning Modules
Discussion boards have multiple benefits for learning in a classroom setting, so it follows that these would also apply to social learning. Benefits include increased participation, community-building and saving faculty members time answering questions—and these all translate to employees and managers in a corporate setting.
“Say I work for a big company and I don’t necessarily know who has this expertise, I can ask this question into a broad community, and I might get connected back with the lady who works in the Tokyo office, who also happens to be working on the same kind of thing—