Do you know anything about social learning? You may have never heard the term, but you sure experienced it at some point. In a nutshell, it’s learning that takes place within a social context. Likewise, it is the sharing of information and knowledge in a social setting. For example, a child learns how to tie his shoelaces by watching his mother demonstrate how to do it. That is, the child learns through observation.
Social Learning in the Workplace
At corporate level, social learning refers to the way in which people learn from coworkers, whether it is by asking questions or simply observing how they approach a task.
However, observation is not the only learning method. Interaction with coworkers is essential to get “just-in-time” knowledge; that is, it provides information they need, as they need it. It can take the form of group discussions, mentorships, or roleplaying, among others.
Besides, modern technology makes it possible to learn from others in many ways. Training tools like learning platforms, social media, or multimedia technology enable teamwork, collaboration, exploratory processes that help employees learn on the job.
Social learning combines social media tools with a shift in the corporate culture, a shift that encourages ongoing knowledge transfer and connects people in ways that make learning a joy. Marcia Conner, FastCompany author
After the pandemic, when organizations and employees had to adapt to new ways of working, e-learning became more popular than ever before. Nowadays, the new normal combines e-learning with social learning to add value to their training programs. It should be noted that social learning should not replace traditional learning methodologies. Social learning must be built around formal learning.
A Complement to Traditional Learning
There are a few ways in which L&D professionals can include social learning in the company’s training program:
- Make learning available from anywhere, anytime, so employees can learn at their own pace.
- Choose a platform that all employees can use to learn and to interact in forums, discussions, etc.
- Boost participation and motivation by including elements of gamification. Triggering the competitive instinct is one way to create engagement. At English Services, we use gamification in our online language courses to help our students hone their language skills.
The Advantages of Implementing Social Learning at Work
- It fosters collaboration between experienced employees and recruits, where the former train the latter.
- It boosts productivity. The acquisition of sound skills and knowledge fosters employees’ confidence and morale, and therefore, their productivity.
- It improves communication because it promotes collaboration.
- It increases motivation thanks to the elements of gamification added to the training program.
- It helps retain talent, as employees learn from real-life experiences and feel happier and loyal to the company.
- It supports continuous training, as employees spend time learning what they need with little impact on their daily workflow.
At English Services, we not only use gamification to make our language training courses interesting and engaging, but we also encourage discussion about different topics in our conversation clubs. We also use project-based learning (PBL), which incorporates meaningful, real-life situations into individual or group projects. Therefore, students can learn from their peers while they work on a specific language project.