The terms “learning management system (LMS)” and “social learning platform” are often used interchangeably. For the 70 percent of L&D departments in North America that are using a learning management system, this is good news as social learning is highly beneficial for enterprises.1 For example, the ROI from social learning approaches has proven to be as high as 75 to 1.2
In 2019, Panopto said social learning was becoming an increasingly hot topic for L&D departments in the corporate sector.3 “According to a report from Bersin by Deloitte, enterprises with at least 10,000 employees spent three times more on social tools than they had in the previous two years,” the source stated. “And according to a report from the Brandon Hall Group, 73% of surveyed organizations expect to increase their focus on social learning over the next year.”
By harnessing the social learning trend and leveraging informal learning, enterprises can promote an excellent ROI from training initiatives, enrich remote training, and much more.
What is Social Learning?
Unlike traditional, classroom-style learning, social learning is informal and unstructured. Gutenberg Technology described social learning as “learning from and with others. This kind of learning can occur through direct as well as indirect contact.”4
This makes social learning ideal for the thousands of companies that have moved employees to a remote environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With social learning, these individuals can continue to receive valuable training.
Panopto went a little deeper into the meaning of social learning, defining it in a business learning context:
“Social learning is defined by the informal ways that we learn from our colleagues, particularly through social technologies like blogs, wikis, discussion forums, subject-matter directories, and videos,” a contributor wrote.5 “Businesses that support social learning have environments that foster conversation and collaboration between learners across the organization.”
Enterprises that support social learning often do so by implementing a learning management system. TOPYX LMS, for example, has built-in features that promote social learning. These social learning features include:
- Discussion Areas
- Peer Based Learning and Feedback
- Media Galleries and File Sharing
- Sponsor Links
- Web Conferencing
- Online Communities
TOPYX’s social learning features encourage informal, engaging learning, even for employees who must participate in remote training.
Request a free LMS demo of TOPYX to learn more.
4 Ways Social Learning Benefits Enterprises
Implementing social learning is one of the smartest moves an organizational leader can make. Here are some of the ways social learning benefits enterprises:
- Social learning boosts productivity - It can take a considerable amount of time for someone to adapt to a new job. U.S. News said it takes about 3 to 6 months for an employee to feel fully comfortable in a new role.6 Thankfully, social learning drives productivity.
When social learning is included in a new hire’s onboarding experience, it may reduce time to productivity. The article “The Impact of Social Learning on Corporate Learning and Development” explained why:
“Employees who are interacting with peers on networking forums, sharing knowledge and answering questions improve their performance and productivity.”7
A learning management system or other social learning platform supplies the features needed to enable new hires, whether remote or in-person, to interact with peers. When peers interact, productivity increases and new hires feel more comfortable at work, more quickly.
- Social learning promotes constructivism - One of the reasons we love social learning is because it promotes constructivism in the workplace. Constructivism is a paradigm that suggests learning is an active, constructive process in which learners become teachers. The result of constructivism is a workforce full of individuals who become engaged with training as a result of informally training their peers.
In the corporate world, constructivism is the antidote to boredom and the solution for disengaged workers. When a learner is engaged to the point of being a teacher to his or her peers, complacency and disengagement cease to be an issue. This may increase rates of learner engagement, which is critical to the success of an employee training program.
- Social learning tools improve communication in the workplace - Clear communication should be happening in every workplace. Things can easily get lost in translation over email and other forms of electronic communication. This increases the need for face-to-face interactions.
For many enterprises, face-to-face interaction isn’t an option right now. Social learning via LMS provides an alternative and promotes communication in a virtual environment.
An LMS facilitates communication and informal learning with social learning tools. Social learning tools like real-time chat, forums, screen sharing, and video conferencing help employees get in sync with one another effortlessly. LMS users can choose the social learning tools that suit them best and make communication fun and easy.
Better communication can lead to increased productivity, which may contribute to a healthier bottom line and a more resilient enterprise. Read more in “4 Ways a Social Learning Management System Can Improve Communication.”
- Social learning drives peer-based learning - Peer-based learning is powerful. “Peer-to-peer learning in the workplace can be used to promote more autonomy, as well as increased collaboration and communication among team members, which may lead to innovative solutions,” explained ADP.8 A contributor to ADP stressed that peer-based learning in a corporate setting can help employees take ownership of their professional development. This may increase worker engagement.
Many social learning management systems allow in-house subject matter experts to self-curate content and share their content with others directly through the learning management system. Learners can also share knowledge with their peers by uploading a video of themselves performing a skill they learned in a remote training course. Their peers can then offer feedback on the video.
There are a host of other ways social learning benefits enterprises. However, the benefits listed above are enough for most organizations to make social learning a priority.
Enrich Remote Training with Social Learning
There have never before been as many remote workers as there are today. Over one-quarter of U.S workers are currently remote, and 22 percent of the U.S. workforce will be remote by 2025, per FlexJobs.9 A contributor wrote, “This is a staggering 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to the pandemic!” This means that today’s company leaders have a challenge that leaders in the past didn’t: they must engage remote learners.
Engaging employees in remote training isn’t necessarily an easy task. Enterprise leaders can help engage employees in remote training by leveraging social learning. Training Industry10 suggested a few tips for organizational leaders who want to boost learner engagement with remote training:
Focus on web conferencing
While your workforce is dispersed, web conferencing should be your go-to tool for integrating social learning with remote training. With web conferencing, you can offer live, instructor-led training sessions.
“Organizations can run forums and symposiums on online video conferencing software,” Training Industry wrote. “Here, leaders can promote active participation out loud or in writing (through the chat) — or both.” Quizzes, live polling, and Q&A opportunities may also boost learner engagement.
Offer job shadowing opportunities
Job shadowing is a great way to engage employees. But, it can be tough to offer job shadowing opportunities when your workforce is dispersed. Virtual tools make job shadowing possible, even when workers are remote.
“Job shadowing is still a useful learning and development tool, and it can take place virtually via video conferencing software, ideally through a screen-share,” stated Training Industry.
Take advantage of an LMS
A social LMS can be invaluable to your enterprise as you navigate the roadblocks caused by the pandemic. “Many learning management systems (LMSs) provide online communities, which facilitate social learning,” explained Training Industry.
LMS social learning tools like real-time chat, web conferencing, online communities, and forums expertly facilitate social learning. A social learning management system is simply a must for any enterprise that prioritizes employee engagement in the age of COVID-19.
Training Industry also encouraged organizational leaders to ensure remote employees were receiving coaching and mentoring via virtual tools. Perhaps more than in-person workers, remote employees need feedback so that they can be successful in their roles. Coaching and mentoring provides the feedback they need.
Promote Social Learning with TOPYX LMS
An LMS not only enables organizations to train their entire workforce, but also encourages social learning. TOPYX social learning LMS and remote training software can benefit your enterprise during this time of transition and uncertainty by fostering social learning. In doing so, it can help boost productivity, promote constructivism, facilitate communication, and drive peer-based learning.
Curious about TOPYX? Request a free LMS demo of our social learning platform today.
- Finances Online. https://financesonline.com/25-essential-learning-management-system-e-learning-statistics-analysis-of-trends-data-and-market-share/
- Gutenberg Technology. https://blog.gutenberg-technology.com/en/social-learning-in-elearning
- Panopto. https://www.panopto.com/blog/what-is-social-learning-and-why-is-it-so-important-for-corporate-ld/
- U.S. News. https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2013/07/10/how-to-adjust-to-a-new-job
- Training Industry. https://trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/the-impact-of-social-learning-on-corporate-learning-and-development/
- ADP. https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/2019/03/peer-to-peer-learning-can-help-employees-find-value.aspx.
- Training Industry. https://trainingindustry.com/articles/remote-learning/6-ways-to-encourage-social-learning-in-the-remote-workplace/