Digital natives are fast filling the workplace while Gen X, Baby Boomers and even retirees are continuing to enrich the workplace. A multi-faceted workforce is the future of most enterprises, where HR is expected to balance the needs of diverse work groups including how they learn. Capability building is one of the key differentiators to stay competitive, and L&D must ensure that they are ahead of the curve by curating personalized learning experiences.
Modern learning technologies are evolving to suit the preferences of the employee as well as the modern day organization. On the one hand, millennial employees are demanding highly interactive, bite-sized learning experiences, on the other hand, enterprises are working towards optimizing learning delivery and effectiveness with a view on costs and impact, this has led to learning taking on new delivery models such as social, mobile and cloud-based learning.
Social learning is based on information sharing, collaboration, and co-creation. Humans have been learning socially since generations by asking each other for information, evaluating ideas together and capitalizing on others’ skills. However, today, social learning leverages social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and other in-house enterprise platforms. It gives learners the power to rate, like, contribute, modify and share content, this is in contrast to the traditional formal approach to enterprise learning, with learners solely accessing content on a learning management system (LMS).
Blend of both: Social-enabled LMS
While most L&D professionals treat social and LMS based learning as two distinct areas, a blend of the two is the ideal approach to next generation of learners. Which means that L&D professionals must think of “social” and “sharing” and ensure that their LMS incentivizes collaboration. Features such as user-generated content, resource-sharing, rating, recommendations, etc. helps build a learner-driven learning culture. A great starting point is to study the content and social features of social platforms.
• Activity feeds: Help start a real-time conversation aimed towards learning.
• Community: Create groups, chat spaces and online networking events to encourage sharing.
• Learner profiles: Learner profiles will increasingly imitate Facebook profiles with status updates, timelines, photos, etc.
• Forums and groups: Create groups with common learning interests to motivate learners to actively participate.
• Blogs: Encourage employees to share knowledge by enabling a personal blog for each profile.
• In-house wiki: Create a knowledge repository such as Wiki where everyone can post and modify content.
• Messaging: Create a culture of “instant shared learning” by embedding messaging into the LMS, minimize email usage.
• File sharing: Encourage a seamless flow of information by using file-sharing services.
A social LMS can help create a “learning pull,” piquing learners’ curiosity and motivating them to share and learn. It empowers learners by providing them access to learning resources in a way they can relate. The employee no longer looks at learning as an ‘external intervention’ to be “completed,” rather learning gets integrated into the workflow.
How to master the Social Learning LMS
L&D and HR professionals aim for seamlessness and sophistication in their LMS systems and learning content. Here’s how.
Think learner-centric: In social-LMS learning, the onus of learning is on the learner. Design the workflow, interactions, and environment to guide learners to hold the reins; this means decentralizing content creation, sharing guidelines, and encouraging participation. It may also mean designing a rewards program to motivate sharing if need be.
Secure security: Concerns about data security and confidentiality are natural in a social learning environment. Work with IT to secure the LMS bandwidth and security features. Work with PR to manage communities and content legally.
Align with learning objectives: Allowing learners to create content may mean that learning digresses from the organizational learning strategy. L&D professionals must act as the guardians of the content to help realize learning objectives. Appoint learning community managers to scrutinize and approve content, and also create content-tippers on specific topics to prevent digression from the learning agenda.
Simple and seamless: Your social learning strategy must be simple and easy for employees to embrace. Social learning is a huge cultural change, and you want employees to transition easily to the new learning environment. Make your social LMS user-friendly.
The best approach to building a social LMS is an iterative approach, measuring its effectiveness periodically. Two key performance indicators to track are vitality, i.e., whether employees are using the social LMS, and capability, i.e., whether learning is yielding the desired results. All in all, L&D professionals must be on the lookout for the overall organizational impact, to make social LMS-led learning sustainable and beneficial to employees, managers and the enterprise.