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Six Reasons to Include Social Learning in Your Training Plans

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I’ve recently spoken with a number of Chief Learning Officers and others responsible for corporate training about their company’s goals and objectives. I’m curious about the corporate training process and the tools necessary for the job – both in terms of content and systems. Many have learning management systems (LMS). In fact, according to an eLearning Industry survey, 41.7 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an educational technology solution for teaching their employees.

Yet most who I have spoken with aren’t happy with what their LMS was providing. They consistently tell me about their need to augment the training they offer through their learning management system with the features of a social learning tool. But why? Isn’t the point of an LMS to educate and train the employee to do their job?

The simple answer to this not really. More often social learning solutions like Bloomfire are bridging the gap between formal and informal training.

Six Reasons to Include Social Learning in Your Training Plans

  1. LMSs have a limited purpose. According to John Schneble in Training Industry Quarterly, “The LMS excels in accomplishing the specific tasks for which it was designed – to target, train, and track.” But this formal training only gets the employee about 10 percent of the training they need, according to the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development. The other 90 percent of training is delivered informally on-the-job with the help of a social learning tool.
  2. Many LMSs are not user friendly. Learning management systems are often outdated and difficult to use. As a result, many don’t want to use them if they don’t have to. According to a survey by Brandon Hall, only 45.5 percent of survey respondents gave their LMS solution high marks relative to the price they paid for it. And an even higher percentage (47.7 percent) were seeking a new provider. Many social learning platforms are new and built with ease-of-use as a clear high priority.
  3. Social learning solutions allow for uploading of user-generated content. Training leaders I spoke with didn’t want to rely solely on the material generated for formal training. They wanted employees to socialize their work and their thoughts with others for the betterment of the team. This can be done through commenting directly on the content and by the sharing of best practices and collateral by peers.
  4. Social learning solutions may allow for the development of learning communities. While most formal training can be done in classes or in isolation, social learning systems may offer the ability to develop learning communities in which groups of learners and trainers share information and collaborate on their learning experience. This extends the training beyond formal boundaries and provides a forum for colleagues to work together to continue sharing and gathering knowledge in a space that is not time limited.
  5. Social learning is mobile learning. Just as trainers want training to happen in the flow of work and not just at a set time each quarter or year, they also want the training to be available anytime from anywhere. Many social learning systems have this feature and at Bloomfire, we approach each new feature with mobile top of mind. Mobile is especially important due to the increase in distributed and often on-the-go workforces today.
  6. Social learning can offer companies metrics beyond a “grade.” Learning management systems are designed to measure the performance of a learner on an assessment, which is great. But what they are less good at is measuring the effectiveness of content on learning. Because social learning is dependent on content generated from a variety of sources, a good social learning solution will measure which content people are relying on most for answers and which content isn’t being accessed at all, helping you curate content and prioritize what is most effective. Some even gamify the experience, as we at Bloomfire do, with leaderboards identifying those most engaged.

Formal learning still plays an important role in the workplace, but the impact of social learning – especially as it is enabled by new technology – is empowering to todays’ workforce, particularly to those younger workers that grew up with both social tools and mobile devices. The challenge to companies today is to empower those workers and provide them with an environment conducive to how they want to learn.

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