At the end of a long day, I often unwind by scrolling mindlessly on social media – why? I honestly have NO idea – but I lurk, I’ll admit it. What I find most interesting is how much more I pay attention (specifically to ads) if someone I admire, or respect clicked the “like” button. It often feels like their personal recommendation saved me the time of finding the best [insert book, diet, pillow…depending on the day] myself.
According to Training Industry, “we are social creatures by nature. We like to interact, share ideas, and observe others”, and “we learn behavior through observing, imitating, and watching others” (Bandura Social Learning Theory).[i] At TTA, we recommend including “social” strategies in your learning experiences designs to fully engage learners, set meaningful context, and help learners realize the full value of your training investments.
What do we mean by “social”?
We classify social strategies as those requiring group participation vs. the efforts of a single individual – supporting collaboration and allowing relationships to grow naturally and organically. We agree…
“…there’s more to social learning than just bringing in social media elements such as comments, posts, instant messaging, group discussion boards, wikis, video chats, and so on in your corporate training. To be meaningful, it needs creating a semi-structured approach to foster collaboration among learners. This can be done through virtual communities that can serve as a platform for them to share knowledge and ideas besides encouraging them to contribute with more inputs to your existing knowledge repository.”[ii]
Is instructor-led training (ILT) social?
Yes, we think so. While many don’t traditionally classify it this way, in our perspective it hits all right criteria, fostering communication and allowing learning opportunities through observation, imitation, and watching others.
Can web-based training be social?
Yes, when connected to a social modality (see matrix below). How? By adding cohorts or games to eLearning, you can increase collaboration and effectiveness.
Why add “social” strategies to the matrix?
Without a social spin, learning experiences can lack the benefits of social influences, such as:
- Personalized feedback: In cohorts and with coaches/mentors, learners can see others model/practice, to feel more comfortable to try, and then get focused feedback that supports individual growth
- Super-curation: Asset sharing so learners see the best – curated by those just like them, or experts they respect
How can you make your learning more social?
Think of the full learning ecosystem, and answer the question – “how can I support learners from readiness to discovery, to reinforcement?” While individual, on-demand learning helps learners offline – these social strategies encourage connection and collaboration, to engage learners and transfer new skills back into the work.
Here are a few ideas to try threading individual with social:
- Readiness: Consider adding a manager expectation meeting upfront so your learners know why they are being asked to complete the individual readiness components, and what comes next for them.
- Discovery: Why not add cohorts to your eLearning? Or gamify simulations to make them multi-player, adding live debriefs that help learners better transition new skills back to the job.
- Reinforcement: Share job aids or follow-up podcasts through communities of practice to encourage a continued discussion about how learners realize the benefits of the experience, over time.
At TTA, we believe there’s value in including social strategies in your modalities matrix, in order to create the full learner experience and see more impact from training investments. Our Modalities Matrix differentiates individual (on-demand) from social (group) learning opportunities, plotting them to show where they can have the most impact across the learner experience. We believe the social layer can help to create the meaningful context required to help change performance, for the long-term.
So, what’s your social strategy?
We encourage you to think beyond transactional, feature-centric social options (like chats and likes), to architect learning that engages across the experience – from readiness to discovery, to reinforcement.