What Is Social Learning? 6 Essential Elements Of A Successful Social Learning Strategy

What Is Social Learning? 6 Essential Elements Of A Successful Social Learning Strategy
Andrii Yalanskyi/Shutterstock.com
Summary: Social learning is often misunderstood. Some people even mistake it for social media, which sells the theory short. In this article, I highlight the elements of an effective social learning strategy so you can implement it in your online training program.

Implementing Social Learning And How To Launch A Successful Social Learning Strategy

What is social learning? Well, the Social Learning Theory was officially introduced by Albert Bandura back in the 1970s. It’s existed in some form since the beginning of time, even though I know that sounds dramatic. However, humans have always learned from one another and observed behaviors in one form or another. In the technological age, it’s evolved into something much more interactive, accessible, and affordable. You no longer have to host face-to-face workshops that involve role-plays or employee presentations. Learning technologies allow employee training participants to collaborate, share experiences, and observe favorable performance behaviors on any device. So, what does it take to launch a successful social learning strategy in your organization?

eBook Release: Social Learning In The Workplace
eBook Release
Social Learning In The Workplace
Find out what social learning is and how you can implement it in the workplace.

1. Facilitates In-House Knowledge Sharing

This approach involves employee collaboration and knowledge exchange. Though demos, tutorials, and examples, play a vital role, peers put the ‘social’ in social learning. Successful strategies include discussion forums, peer coaching, and live events. Above all else, you must cultivate a communicative training culture that supports lifelong learning and diversity. Everyone should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions with the group to expand the collective knowledge base. As well as set an example for their co-workers who may need help overcoming challenges and bridging gaps.

2. Incorporates Live Models That Foster Real-World Application

One of the most significant social learning benefits is that it provides visual examples for employee training participants to follow. This typically comes in the form of live models. Such as demos, talk walkthroughs, and skill-based tutorials. Live reenactments can also improve performance behaviors and highlight hidden areas for improvement. The primary purpose is to facilitate real-world applications. Employee training participants watch these live models in order to see how things are done and thus, avoid common mistakes. Then, they proceed by mimicking these actions in the workplace because they know it leads to favorable outcomes. No risk involved, because they’ve gained experiential knowledge thanks to your social learning strategy.

3. Includes Gamification Elements To Motivate Employees And Boost Collaboration

The new kid on the social learning block is gamification. It’s not technically part of Albert Bandura’s theory, but it does facilitate one of the key principles: motivation. Some employees need a little nudge to participate in the process. Badges, points, and leaderboards offer a motivational boost and encourage collaboration. Sure, they’re engaging in a friendly competition to out-perform their ‘rivals.’ However, they share ideas and work collectively to achieve common goals in the meantime. Just make sure that your game mechanics don’t create hostilities in the workplace. For instance, employees are so consumed by earning more points that they try to sabotage co-workers’ tasks or diminish their self-confidence.

4. Grabs Employee Training Participants’ Attention By Building Interesting And Eliminating Distractions

Attention is the number one social learning principle you must include in your strategy. Employee training participants need to be fully engaged to get the most from the experience. This includes a stable state of mind and not letting distractions get in the way. Survey the team to identify personal interests and goals. Then develop social learning activities that pique their curiosity and align with their expectations. You should also ensure that the course design, itself, is clutter-free and conducive to social interactions. For instance, they can quickly live chat with peers or access the knowledge base.

5. Makes The Most Of Social Media To Foster Meaningful Exchange

Social learning is not the same thing as social media. That said, platforms like YouTube and Facebook can be a powerful training tool. Think of it this way, employees already use these platforms daily to catch up with friends and read the latest news. Why not use it to your advantage in online training? Post daily prompts or questions to get the conversation going. It’s best to create a closed group so employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. You should also set some ground rules so that everyone respects others’ opinions and beliefs. It should never be a place where employee training participants ‘gang up’ on someone simply because they have different ideas or backgrounds. Another great way to incorporate social media is to host live Q&As or events.

6. Includes Visual Reinforcement Tools To Improve Knowledge Retention

The main pillars of social learning are observing behaviors and then modeling your actions to match. Or manipulating the information to fit into different contexts so that you’re able to achieve desired outcomes. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of the theory is information coding. Meaning, how our minds store the knowledge and organize it to assign meaning. Visual reinforcement tools help learners code the information and retain it for later use. For example, infographics or images that outline every step of the task. Our brains remember this visual stimulus more effectively than words. Thus, employees are able to mimic those behaviors on the job to achieve the best results. Video clips are another ideal training tool to show employees the ropes and highlight performance pitfalls to avoid.

The most direct answer to what is social learning is that it’s a learner-centered, constantly evolving strategy. New gaps call for new task demos, real-world examples, and social media discussions. Gather feedback from employee training participants to detect areas for improvement and devise fresh ways to provide ongoing support. You should also consider an LMS that supports social learning integration. Such as leaderboards, live chats, and groups. Technology should never be a barrier to social learning. So, you may need to invest in a new platform that eases communication and allows learners to contribute their own resources.

Wondering what social learning is and how you can implement it in the workplace to motivate employees, facilitate knowledge sharing and talent development? Download our eBook Social Learning In The Workplace: How To Cultivate A Collaborative Online Training Culture and get to expose all the common myths around social learning!