Social learning is not a new concept. Various theories have explained man’s social approach to learning, some of these dating to as back as the 1940s. For example, Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory stresses the importance of observational learning, imitation and modeling to learn certain behaviors.
However, with the coming of the industrialization age, skill division became the primary focus and man’s social instincts of sharing, communicating and learning were overthrown by a lust for mass production, which merely treated men as cogs in the wheel of development. Social learning, thus waned away.
Fast forward a few decades, and now is again the time to regain what was lost. In a social-media-and-technology driven world, organizations and education specialists are once again stressing the potential of social learning in facilitating a continuous, self-propagating system of learning. The prerequisite to this is a behavior change from top down in an enterprise to create a work culture that thrives on mutual trust and collaboration. Integrating social learning at the workplace requires the following –
Senior management must lead the change
If senior management feels that social ‘learning’ is just the L&D department’s business, it’s never going to happen. Any change must come from the top and key executives must lead by example to demonstrate the importance of a shared learning culture.
A change management strategy must be defined
Bringing about social learning necessitates a thorough needs and assessment analysis, complete with what model will be used to sustain it. The role of instructors and technology must be outlined to transform the work environment and reach a (defined) desired future state.
Motivation must not be forgotten
Repeatedly motivating employees by direct and subtle methods to be honest and open about their thoughts and ideas is a vital initial step to drive out hesitation.
Collaboration must be encouraged
Giving away creative rewards or incentives for social collaboration can be the right motivator for employees to bring their ideas and knowledge out in the open with others. Otherwise, a lack of appreciation may cause shy or hesitant employees to hold back knowledge.
Roping in technology
In today’s world, a major part of communication happens over technological devices. To make social learning run deep within the enterprise, it is a must that a social learning enabled platform be provided. A socially enabled learning management system’s (LMS) ability to foster productive work-related discussions and threads ensures that employees remain actively engaged with the enterprise LMS.
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