4 Ways To Make Your eLearning Social

How To Make Your eLearning Social

Imagine a group of designers gathered in a studio to discuss a new sneaker design. Some might sketch mockups on a whiteboard. Others might take notes. As a collective, they look at the competition’s best sellers, material pricing, and color samples.

Could all of these activities take place independent of one another, on each of the designer’s own time? Absolutely. Much of it could be communicated digitally, over email or Slack, as well. However, it is the interplay of the ideas and experience that each designer brings to the table that is so valuable. The group dynamics are the keys that cannot be replicated. Or can they?

Social Interaction Is Essential To Social Learning

Many organizations have introduced social learning platforms in order to better engage employees across departments and management levels. Social learning theory posits that people’s behavior, knowledge, and attitudes evolve by observing and interacting with others. These types of interactions happen organically for most of us as we go about our day. But what if we want to purposefully weave these types of experiences into a learning program? To do it well requires some foresight so that we include clear "on-ramps" for employees to engage with one another in social learning.

Here are 3 ideas to weave social experiences into your company’s Learning and Development program:

  1. Use forums as a social learning hub: Within a Learning Management System (LMS) framework, provide a discussion board that is easily accessible after learners read course material or view a video. Learners can actively participate in a forum by posting and answering questions, as well as sharing perspectives and experiences. Bear in mind that learners are more likely to engage in discussion boards that are easily accessible on their mobile devices. The 2017 KCPB study [1] on internet trends shows the average adult spends 3.1 hours/day on their mobile phone, versus 2.2 hours/day on a desktop or laptop.  Maintain an encouraging learning culture. It is important that these forums are places where learners can feel safe to comment or question material. According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report [2], companies should strive to foster a learning culture that is “a place where it’s safe to take risks and make mistakes. This means that employees celebrate the ‘aha! moments’ just as much as they do the results or successes”.
  2. Make the group activity meaningful: Group activities in eLearning are especially successful when learners are contributing meaningfully to the company’s mission. An example of a group activity for an eLearning module that could impact the company might be helping to document the company’s best practices or to design a style guide for the organization. This is the type of endeavor that empowers the learner, as well as the company that inspired it. The resulting impact of this group activity is the learner’s newfound confidence within a culture of learning that may even benefit cross-company ranks and geography. Employees get to know one another, accomplish something together, and the company benefits.
  3. Tap the coach/mentor: A 2014 Workplace Accountability Study [3] conducted by Partners in Leadership, found that 85% of leaders are not defining what employees should be working on, and an equal number of employees are seeking clarity. This sounds like poor social learning is pervasive where expectations are communicated and clarified. What an opportunity for change, using eLearning as a springboard! Throughout a course term, instructors and learners are focused on new concepts and behaviors. But what happens after the course? How can learners continue to embrace the social learning they experienced and bring new concepts and behaviors back to their work? One idea might be for learners to draft their own action plan while taking the course. Learners can seek out a direct manager, a peer colleague, or someone from the Learning and Development team to hold them accountable. The good news is that many companies already have systems in place within the organization for employees to touch base with a mentor. The mentor/coach will be kept apprised of the learner’s continued progress relative to the action plan.

Whether this is your company’s first or 51st attempt to provide an eLearning component to its Learning and Development, the tools and the purpose of the training should always be considered. Social learning can only be fully realized when the social aspect is made a priority.


  1. Internet Trends 2017
  2. 2017 Workplace Learning Report
  3. New Partners In Leadership Research Links Organizational Underperformance with Rampant Employee Confusion