Social Learning at the Modern Workplace

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Social Learning came into prominence with the growing number of channels on YouTube and domain-experts putting out snippets of learning on Facebook. As Facebook turned more popular, organizations wanted a learning platform or solution that could offer an experience that replicated Facebook. This in turn, created a market for gamified social learning platforms and the trend continues as organizations make workplace learning more engaging and efficient. In the last few years, we have created a fair bit of content on social learning. This blog post is an integrated and updated version of our best content on social learning.

Social Workplace learning Integrated blog

RoI on Organizational Learning Spends

“Breakneck speed” is a term that can best describe the explosion of data and information in the current digitally disruptive era. Organizations globally, irrespective of size, are concentrating on how to connect intellectual (knowledge), working (money), and human (talent) capital effectively so that efficiency drives growth and brings in economic gains to the stakeholders.

Such being the scenario, every dime counts, right? A few years ago, the translation costs involving the members of the world-renowned body – the European Union (EU) worked out to $1.45 billion annually? What would your reaction be if you were informed that typically, 253 translators are needed to anticipate all the pairwise possibilities of translation work of 23 official languages of 27 member countries of the EU? What if such an effort meant 1.3 million pages getting translated into English? Well, references to this example and the “visual theft” relating to knowledge, wisdom, and skills have been made by evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel in a 2011 TED talk! He was talking about cumulative cultural adaptation with an emphasis on how language has transformed humanity.

The fundamental requirement of a knowledge-society is to facilitate the free flow and exchange of ideas. In the context of learning, it’s apt to mention that the world is moving from exclusivity to inclusivity and it would do better to know and understand the new language in the making – social media learning or social learning (as per the ongoing debate by experts). Instead of a cold (read formal, structured) atmosphere, if the learners’ environment is warm (read friendly, social, and informal), then finding, connecting, and engaging gets easy, doesn’t it?

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Even LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, in one of his inspiring speeches, has said the sales narrative has changed. Citing a third-party research report, he points out that “Social selling is leading to efficacy gains by 50%.” That being the case, isn’t it time for organizations to change the narrative of learning? Can we not draw the same inference to social learning or social media learning?

Leveraging the power of social media and collective intelligence, organizations need to evaluate the pros and cons of social learning. Doesn’t every L&D team want learning to stick? Don’t organizations want to “encourage” learners rather than enforce learning? The rate of penetration and adaptation of social media networks and platforms are best left undisputed. Mark Pagel alludes to the map of the new world being created when he points to the picture showing the ‘Facebook Friendship Links’ inter-connecting continents!

BYOD or ‘bring your own device’ as a concept is gaining prominence. Though IT teams stress on the importance of network security and cyber-threats, the startup culture fosters BYOD policies to cut down on expenses.  Collaborative learning makes learning at the workplace engaging and effective. When you get to learn along with your friends and colleagues, there’s an added impetus to complete the training assigned to you.

The learning architecture of an organization would do well to consider the layer (dimension) of social learning or social media learning, as the promise of expanding the scope of learning can be fulfilled by the performance it seeks to offer. SMAC or the social, mobile, analytics, and cloud computing power can be harnessed in evaluating social learning solutions.

The Social Learning Chemistry

Organizations have multiple challenges to address. They need inexpensive but effective training solutions that will engage the workforce and help them improve their productivity. As microlearning and videos work better, more organizations are deploying microlearning and video-based learning solutions to train their staff. Mobile learning is also evolving with the increasing dependence on mobile learning apps. Social media platforms can be used as an effective engagement tool in the sphere of learning. Be it to launch initiatives or trying to make things work, this is a technology platform that has thrown open the doors wide to experiment, explore, and measure the outcomes. It is a dip stick to know the trends and behavior of the usability and efficacy of the technology. As the former White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman said: “The advantage of these platforms over traditional media is that they’re very measurable. You get feedback on what people like, and what works.”

Case Study

A luxury travel retailer came to Origin with a critical issue. They were expanding their presence globally and they need a faster, online learning solution to train their new staff effectively.

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Key Challenges

  • Training new employees
  • Lack of peer-to-peer collaboration
  • Common global training platform


Origin created a gamified social learning platform that could be accessed by all employees with ease. As part of the onboarding and training program, new employees were asked to sign up to the platform and complete the training courses assigned to them. The platform allowed employees to interact with each other and share their success stories. The gaming and social elements of the platform made learning fun and engaging.


Origin created a social and collaborative learning platform on which the existing training content was suitably modified and deployed. With easy access to all employees globally and a clear progress chart tracing the course completion scenarios, employees could collaborate and interact with their peers and share their success stories online within the platform. The training time was reduced by half, considerable time and money was saved by the company as all training moved online. The new employees were able to handle sales and operations on their own, approximately 70% faster.

Curious to know how we addressed all these challenges? Here’s how we helped the luxury retailer meet their training challenges.

What Drives Social Media Learning?

The ‘knowledge economy’ may provide information aplenty but equally challenging is the demand to plug the skill gaps among employees. This becomes tougher as it is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to retain existing talent and hire new resources.

How can the new generation of workers be managed, with their shortening attention span? The needs and demands are increasingly becoming difficult to understand.

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How to funnel the energies of millennials entering the workforce? What are the ways of leveraging technology in an environment where experience is hands-on? How do enterprises make the work atmosphere vibrant, fun, and engaging?

Diverse culture, multiple locations, and a globalized workforce are causing businesses to re-think their learning strategies. Then, why not look at ways of making “formal” learning happen in the most informal environment as well?

Isn’t sparking the right conversations proving critical for organizations keen on having an effective and engaging workforce? Can bite-sized learning work? Can a formal, regulated, and structured framework be given to social learning?

It is the “intimacy” and “immediacy” aspects of social media that are prodding small, medium, and big enterprises to evaluate the option of implementing social learning solutions. Users are connected by more than one type of relationship today – as sweeping changes are dictating the world of business. Work is no longer confined to cubicles and office spaces. It has not only become seamless but also an integral part of our lives. This is what smart technologies have managed to do.

So, technology, tools, and virtual connectivity have made it possible for concepts such as “work from home”, “anywhere, anytime”, “bring your own device”, “mobile” and a host of other popular options. At Origin, we have reimagined the learning process and made it simpler to learn. We have built a proprietary learning experience platform that places the learner at the center of the learning process.

Origin Fractal LXP is designed to foster mobile-first learning and is designed specifically for customer education and extended enterprise learning. Use Origin Fractal to train your employees who can’t be accommodated within the corporate LMS. Use Fractal to train your sales and channel partners. Use Fractal to monetize your training and content and sell it using the in-built marketplace function.

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