The Swiss Army-TDS, PT. 4: eFrontPro For Social Learning
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Discover What eFrontPro For Social Learning Is Capable Of

There are programs that focus on one thing only -forcing you to tediously combine them with multiple other programs that might or might not be compatible- and programs that can do tons of things, but are not especially good in any of them - and you need a rocket science degree to figure them out. The first style is called "the Unix way". The second is common in many enterprise tools and certain Microsoft software. Then there are programs like eFrontPro. Programs that can do many things elegantly while maintaining their ease of use. They achieve this not by piling up feature after feature, but by building on a core set of powerful features that work well together, and that can be combined in multiple ways to cater to different use cases. In the previous articles in this series, we had a look at eFrontPro’s applicability for Enterprise Talent Development, eCommerce, and Instructor-Led Training. Today we’ll discuss the capabilities of eFrontPro for Social Learning.

Social What?

In its most basic definition, social learning refers to any learning activity that takes advantage of socialization and human interaction. In this sense, it’s as old as education.

More specifically, though, online social learning refers to the utilisation of social media techniques in training and talent development. A kind of "Facebook for the classroom", so to speak.

This doesn’t have to happen through the obvious social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc), although it can, of course, take advantage of them, too. The most popular trend is the use specialized social enterprise platforms that extend beyond training and talent development, into the "social office". In this way, they can offer the benefits of social networking across all kinds of enterprise workflows and activities.

Common Misconceptions About Social Learning

As we already said, social learning is not new. Online social learning is, of course, new, but learning has always had a social element, and it has always been an important part of education (think learner collaboration, class dynamics, gamification, etc.).

Social learning is not about learners engaged in random chats and exchanging viral videos either. They might do those things too, from time to time, but it’s the interaction, information exchange, and collaboration aspects that make it a powerful technique that enhances your training program and increases engagement.

Social learning is not just for young learners.

Teenagers might be heavy users of social media, but do you know who else is? Everybody else. Heck, even my grandparents are on Facebook these days. Besides, social learning is not about conventional social media, but training (or enterprise) focused social platforms.

Last, but not least, social learning is not some wanna-be technology either.

It has been adopted by some of the world’s largest enterprises, there are multiple strong commercial offerings with excellent enterprise support, and it’s only getting stronger.

eFrontPro For Social Learning

So how does eFrontPro fare as a social learning platform? In short: Great. Especially with a little help from its friend.

See, while eFrontPro has basic support for social collaboration, in the form of its built-in messaging, discussion forums, and teleconference sessions, it really becomes a best of class Talent Development & Social Learning solution when it’s combined with IBM’s leading "IBM Connections" enterprise social network (ESN) platform.

Combining the two platforms is a snap to do too -- thanks to our "eFrontPro For IBM Connections" solution, which provides seamless integration between your eFrontPro-based content and users, and your social enterprise portal, giving you a boost to enterprise collaboration, knowledge sharing, and talent development.

This is not a quick hack either -- it’s a deeply rooted integration solution that leverages IBM’s official extension points. In fact, eFrontPro for IBM Connections has been verified by IBM and validated as part of "Ready for IBM Social Business" program. It doesn’t get any more official than that.

eFrontPro And IBM Connections

So what exactly do you get by combining these two platforms? Quite a lot actually. Like peanut butter and jelly, those are two great flavors that taste even better together.

First of all, you get Single Sign On, and a unified user base -- IBM Connection users can now get optional access rights to eFrontPro, and subscribe for courses and ILT events from their personalized IBM Connections portal.

They can also create new course content, training and talent development units, and share them with their team members or other colleagues (sharing options can be set as coarse or fine-grained as needed, even on a per item basis). One level higher than regular users, managers get the ability to assign training content (including assessments, tests, quizzes, and surveys) to employees in their team and monitor their progress.

Perhaps the most interesting and engaging aspect of social learning in practice is the spontaneous creation of "communities of interest" around specific subjects and projects that allows teams, or even people from multiple ranks, job functions, and departments, to work together and collaborate on common problems.

Communities of Interest within eFrontPro

So What Can eFrontPro Do For Social Learning?

Social enterprise platforms lack mature Talent Development and Learning options. Talent Development platforms, on the other hand, have limited social networking features. By combining eFrontPro and IBM Connections you get a powerful social enterprise and talent development platform that offers the best of both worlds, and is officially sanctioned by IBM.

Stay tuned for our next article, where we will chalk yet another use case as mastered by eFrontPro.

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