Why is a Social Learning platform important for business?

There are many times in our life when we are having a good time and we think we couldn’t possibly be learning anything but we actually are. The simple act of observation means that we are taking in and absorbing information, which in turn means that it constitutes learning.

This is, in essence, how social learning works. Observe, repeat, perfect. Most of our adult behavior was learned through simply watching our parents or family. How to tie shoelaces, how to put on a tie, how to drive – all of these are activities which have their roots in watching others doing something.

Change is not good (but it really is)

The applications of a social learning platform on training have been known for sometime, but the idea of a social learning management system is relatively new. Education and training is an industry that is not known for its fast rate of evolution – it’s often hard for some traditionalists to admit that the tried and tested classroom-based methods may not be the most effective and, even more scandalously, might be actually turning people off what they are supposed to be absorbing.

Organizations have been the first to recognize the benefits of adopting a social learning policy, as they are less bound by the need to stay true to conventional methods and are generally much more innovative.

These days it’s all about interactions

Almost all of a modern workforce is involved in some way with a social network. The idea of sharing information – sometimes with complete strangers – is normal to us, as is the thought of collaborating with people from across the globe.

A social learning platform isn’t really anything new – similar models have been used for years. What is new, however, is the scale at which organizations these days can involve their workforce in social learning based training. A distributed workforce is no longer a barrier to training or cooperation, and a strong social learning platform and strategy can but strengthen these bonds and stimulate collaboration.

More importantly, a social learning platform facilitates a connection to ideas. This fact is of particular import to organizations as these are the ideas which could, if nurtured, change the direction of the company. Without a proper social space in which to share and develop ideas – especially if two people are in different parts of the world – these ideas may never grow.

Best LMS means that learners don’t just have to rely on content that was generated for formal training. Natively, and with the help of integrations with productivity tools like Google Apps or Cloud storage apps such as Dropbox, an LMS gives learners the ability to upload and share their own content and ideas. Forums, comments and group discussion then take the idea further.

The LMS itself is a gateway to interaction. A great learning management system like Paradiso LMS connects learners from across the business and gives them a platform not just for their formal learning but for informal activities such as forums, wikis and blogs. As these activities take place within the confines of the LMS they can be tracked and the data used to draw a more detailed and rounded picture of the learner and his or her progress.

The new face of Social Learning

For several years of elearning technology the standard for content production and reproduction has been SCORM. SCORM is great as it allows instructors to track and monitor learner progress through formal courses. But it doesn’t take into account the other ways in which we learn, like social interactions, videos, conferences and any other activity which could, even potentially, contribute to a learner’s development.

The evolution of SCORM comes in the form Tin Can Api, the new specification for elearning content that can be used on its own or in conjunction with an LMS.

Tin Can Api (or Xperience Api or xApi as it is also known) records activities (formal or informal) in the form of “statements” which are sent to a Learning Record Store (LRS) in as noun-verb-object. These statements may be sent when the learner watches a relevant video on YouTube (sam-watched-YouTube video) or attends a conference (sam-attended-elearning conference) and help to build a more detailed picture of the learning process that is shaping the employee.

The ability to track interactions on a social learning platform through Tin Can, coupled with the performance-managing power of a traditional SCORM compliant LMS such as Paradiso LMS, gives instructors real power to gauge progress and development, as well as being able to tweak development and learning plans, audit their training material and ensure their learners are on the right path.

Learning on the go with mobile learning

Part of the reason social learning is so useful is that it empowers the learner to continue the learning process wherever they want, at their convenience. Mobile learning takes this one step further, giving learners the chance to participate in their training on whichever device is easiest for them – computer, tablet or smartphone.

This is taken even further by the possibility of offline learning through Paradiso’s Offline Player. With this SCORM-compliant elearning content can be downloaded when online, completed when offline, and the data synched when the user reconnects. This way those who couldn’t previously get access to their training outside of the workplace – due to disability or lack of internet at home for example – now have no excuse not to get involved!

Next steps

These advances in our understanding of social learning, the implications of a social learning platform on organizations and the way in which LMSs use social learning tools must be accompanied by a change in social learning and social media policy.

The days of individual learning and personal goals are over. The focus is now on learning through social interactions and collaboration, and a social learning platform such as Paradiso LMS facilitates connections with individuals with a common task from around the world, fostering development, knowledge expansion and even cultural sensibility.

 

To speak to one of our advisers and learn more about how social learning could benefit your organization please follow the link to our Contact us page.

Sam Lewis

Sam's background is in translation and content creation and he brings years of experience from living and working in the UK and Latin America. He has a Masters in Translation from the University of Manchester and a Bachelors in Modern Languages from the same university. In his free time - when not doing translation - he writes for a local lifestyle magazine and enjoys watching movies and eating out (and reviewing both of them).

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